Clovis businesses start to reopen as city council paves path for no enforcement of state order

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Businesses started to reopen in Clovis Tuesday after a city council vote eliminated the city's emergency orders.

Customers trickled back into Jackson Jewelry in Old Town Clovis. For more than six weeks, "stay at home" orders kept the doors closed.

"It killed us," said owner Bruce Jackson. "It killed us. It wasn't good for us. We really needed to go back to work."

Jackson got a little help from banks, but he took a deep dip into his life savings to keep the business afloat until he heard what he needed to hear Monday night.

The Clovis City Council not only rescinded its emergency orders, it directed police to focus on crime instead of the state orders.

Only council member Lynne Ashbeck, who works at Valley Children's Hospital, opposed it.
The vote confused some business owners, but others heard it as the city saying they can reopen without worrying about consequences.

"We can't give them permission to violate the governor's order," said Mayor Drew Bessinger. "That being said, if they chose to, and they did it in a responsible manner, that would be something that if they were to be cited at some point, they could go before a judge and at least make a good case."

Council member Bob Whalen told Action News the governor's order is "constitutionally suspect" and enforcement will be left to the state and county, agencies like CHP which he acknowledged play little role in enforcement in Clovis.

He says Clovis police will only intervene for "egregious" violations the state and county refuse to enforce.

"Our officers have a lot to do and chasing minor issues isn't really going to be one of our priorities," said Mayor Bessinger.

The mayor said the numbers don't justify keeping a lid on the economy any longer.

"The health emergency is over," he said. "Now we have to deal with the fiscal emergency. And the only way to deal with that is to our people back to work."

The city lost out on the rodeo and Big Hat Days and has watched its sales tax and hotel occupancy tax revenue plummet.

Bessinger says he's talked to business owners who are weeks away from going under. He says you have to look at them as victims too.

Jackson, the Old Town jeweler, is masking up, keeping his social distance, offering extra hand sanitzer, and trying to make sure the damage is temporary.

"Hoping everything is gonna work," he said. "If somebody comes in and says we have to shut down, we will shut down. But other than that, we're going to try to survive."
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