Activity was brisk during lunch hour on Friday in downtown Lodi.


Several shops’ front doors were open and customers, some wearing masks, strolled on the sidewalk and ducked into shops and restaurants.


Yolanda Garza, owner with her husband Frank Garza and their daughter Cynthia Estrella of Burton’s Shoes on South School Street said her doors have been open for about three weeks. Her inventory includes boots for construction workers and footwear for nurses, health care workers and others employed by essential businesses as defined by statewide stay-at-home orders issued in March.


"We are essential as I think any business is," said Garza, whose family has owned Burton’s Shoes for about 30 years. "If Costco can sell shoes and jewelry and groceries than small businesses should be very essential.


"It’s good for our youth and our younger generation to pay attention to what’s going on. America is where I was born and raised. This is the world I know and I don’t want it changed. I don’t want to lose our freedom as Americans."


On Thursday, San Joaquin County was approved by the state to move at an accelerated rate through the rest of Phase 2 in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage "Resilience Roadmap" to reopen businesses that have had to alter operations or shutter temporarily to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


By meeting certain requirements, many counties were allowed to move more quickly through Phase 2.


On Friday, destination retail businesses, such as shopping malls and swap meets, as well as dine-in restaurants were allowed to reopen with modifications.


Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs said Friday during a town hall meeting that businesses are open but it’s hardly business as usual.


"I just want to be very clear on what this means and what it doesn't mean," Tubbs said. "It does not mean that it's back to business as usual. It does not mean that the curve has been totally flattened. It does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer in our community. It doesn't mean that we're done. It means we're one step closer to the goal, but we still have a long ways to go."


On May 8, most counties were allowed to move into the early phase of Stage 2, which allowed the reopening with modifications of curbside retail, manufacturers, logistics, childcare for those outside of the essential workforce, office-based businesses, outdoor museums, open gallery spaces and other public spaces. Select services such as car washes, pet grooming and landscape gardening were also allowed to resume.


On Friday afternoon, Jim Hanley, one of 40 Stocktonians who are managing members of Mezzo Enoteca in Stockton, manager Melissa Goodman and chef Ruby Lopez prepped for dinner service that night in compliance with three pages of modifications from the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Department of Public Health. Hanley and Goodman put closed signs on the bar and every other table to adhere to physical distancing requirements.


Though Mezzo has offered curbside pickup the past two months, revenue fell 80% while the dining room was closed.


"Now we’re going to get to open up at 50% occupancy basically with the same occupancy cost," Hanley said. "So, the concern is down the road should we continue with this? How do you get out of the leases or how do you maintain because the leases were designed on so many tables. That’s for the down the road."


Nevertheless, Hanley was excited, to say the least, that he could reopen the dining room Friday with modifications and thanked the county Board of Supervisors for their efforts with the state.


"We’re just so happy to be open," he said. "And our staff is, too."


Some restaurants and shops reopened with modifications Friday at Lincoln Center in Stockton. Phil Johnson, president of Sims-Grupe Management, the general partner for Lincoln Properties, which owns Lincoln Center and Parkwoods shopping centers, said some businesses will need a few days to gear up before they reopen and that about 16 of the centers’ 100 occupants are lumped into Stage 3 or Stage 4 of the governor’s plan, and can’t open right now, such as gyms, and hair and nail salons.


"We feel 99% of the businesses will reopen," Johnson said. "We’ve been here since 1951 with the same ownership group and management group. We feel like we are in a very good position to work with our merchants."


As of Friday, there were 752 positive cases, up 19 from the previous day; 167 total hospitalizations, up nine from last week; 586 total recovered; and 33 total deaths, up two from last week, according to Public Health Services of San Joaquin County.


Contact reporter Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8277 or jhighfill@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobhighfill.