Fresno council member to 'refine' language for proposed order that would close retail stores

"The goal is to ensure the health and safety of residents and employees and help keep/re-open our small businesses as soon as possible," Councilman Luis Chavez said Wednesday.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Days after Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez proposed a five-day closure of all retail businesses within the city, he said Wednesday he will now work with the council to "refine the language" in the draft of the proposed emergency bill.

In the original draft obtained by Action News on Monday, Fresno's emergency shutdown order would last five days once the number of available ICU beds in the county is down to zero.

The emergency proposal calls for all retail businesses to completely close, including big box stores such as Target and Walmart.

RELATED: Fresno retail stores could be shut down under new 5-day emergency order being drafted

Businesses that don't comply could be cited, and fines start at $1,000 and go up to $10,000.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Chavez said the city council was going to "come to a workable solution and together reduce the exploding number of COVID-19 infections" in Fresno, which has battled a surge in virus cases for weeks and is currently under a regional stay at home order issued by the state.

RELATED: Target, Walmart in Fresno to be shut down under proposed emergency order
"The goal is to ensure the health and safety of residents and employees and help keep/re-open our small businesses as soon as possible," Chavez added.

It wasn't immediately clear what changes the council member or the city council would make to the proposed ordinance.

"Maybe have more limited capacity inside the facilities whether it is 10% or scaling down," she said to Action News later in the day.

This could also include designated hours for in-person shopping and curbside pickup.

"He is willing to work with us to try to come up with some kind of language that will maybe reduce capacity that will avoid a total shutdown," said Fresno Chamber of Commerce President Nathan Ahle.

Ahle said they don't take the pandemic lightly, but business owners have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic.

He said a total shutdown would not work.

"You have folks that may not be able to use Instacart for a number of reasons. Whether they don't have a credit card or they don't have a smartphone," he said.

In statement, City Council president Miguel Arias said on behalf of the City Council,
"We are prepared to take actions necessary to protect our community and preserve our health care system at a moment's notice this holiday season."

The council could vote on the emergency proposal as soon as next week.
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