Fresno councilmember Mike Karbassi addresses future of city's shelter-in-place order

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi says something has to change in Fresno to help businesses and people slowly return to their normal lives.

However, he says his colleagues aren't on the same page, and won't even follow the stay at home order themselves.

"If our politicians are willing to violate the shelter in place order to pat themselves on the back, maybe it's time we allow our small businesses to open too," Karbassi said.

Referring to a press conference held last week by councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria about the Save our Small businesses program, Karbassi said his colleagues are now writing checks they can't cash.

"Are they going to be able to take responsibility when we start laying off cops and firefighters and staff at code enforcement and parks? That's going to really impact the residents of Fresno, and it's coming," he said.

The current shelter in place order for Fresno ends May 6th.

Miguel Arias told Action News Monday, "Whatever we do has to be in compliance with the state emergency order. His frustration is shared by all of us."

Karbassi wants the city to step away from offering only a few businesses small loans, since the money isn't being matched and the city's financial stability is uncertain. In addition, the federal government is now providing millions to help cities recover and local businesses to stay afloat.

A Fresno Economic Recovery Committee met by video Monday afternoon to discuss a process to eventually reopen businesses. It will be methodical only after local medical leaders determine it is safe.

Karbassi says small businesses are especially being penalized by not allowing them to reopen with a safety protocol. He hopes these businesses won't be bankrupt by the time the local stay in place order expires.

Mayor Brand said repeat violators of the shelter-in-place order could face fines of $1,000 and even arrest.
Since the announcement, California Governor Gavin Newsom has assembled a task force and laid an outline for the state's economic recovery, but said science would be the leading indicator for when businesses can reopen.

Fresno formed its own task force to plan the city's economic recovery efforts made up of city council members, business leaders, school officials and the county's director of public health.

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