Coalinga declares all its businesses 'essential' in defiance of Gov. Newsom's order

COALINGA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Coalinga declared all businesses in the city 'essential', in defiance of California Gov. Gavin Newsom's emergency 'shelter in place' order.

The Coalinga City Council passed the resolution in a 4-1 vote on Thursday evening.

The resolution said that all businesses in the city are allowed to stay open and operate 'for the duration of the local and state emergency'.

The city has ordered the businesses to abide by the CDC's social distancing guidelines, including maintaining a 6-feet distance between people and preventing large crowds or gatherings.
On Thursday, Gov. Newsom revealed a set of guidelines for some businesses to reopen in California but did not include businesses such as seated-dining in restaurants, shopping malls, and outdoor museums among those allowed to open immediately.

Ten years ago, Margaret and Bruce Rudulph didn't imagine celebrating their wedding anniversary during a pandemic.

"We had a cruise planned for our ten-year anniversary, so that got canceled, we had to improvise," says Bruce.

But they were all smiles on Friday even behind their face masks because their friends set up a scavenger hunt leading them to the only places still open throughout Coalinga.

Friday was the first day the Reel Time movie theater in Coalinga opened its doors since the state guidelines deemed them a non-essential business.

"They can only sit with the group they're with leaving at least three seats apart, so no one is within 10 feet of another person," said owner Scott Netherton.

Netherton says safety precautions start as soon as you get in line. In addition to newly installed plexiglass and hand sanitizer stations, each movie-goer answers questions regarding their health and potential exposure to COVID-19.

"There's only one family allowed in the lobby area, we're taking their temperatures as well as employees," said Netherton.

For $5, you can watch one of 4 movies.

"It's not about profit right now, it's survival," said Netherton.

Said Coalinga City Councilmember Adam Adkisson:
"We're giving them the freedom to open up on their own, but they know there could be ramifications from the state."

The 4-1 vote defies governor Gavin Newsom's executive order.

"We're taking a huge revenue hit by having all of these businesses closed. What are we going to be forced to do if we're a million dollars short while police and fire make up 70 percent of our budget? What do you think is going to happen? We're going to have to lay off police and fire. Is that fair to the community?" Adkisson added.

Each business that decides to open must follow social distancing guidelines from the CDC.

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