Fresno hoping to reopen some low-risk businesses in a matter of days

The city of Fresno is promising that some businesses deemed non-essential will reopen very soon.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The coronavirus pandemic has left Henry Acosta with no choice but to leave his northwest Fresno hair salon closed for the last two months.

"If this goes on three months and maybe four because you never know what they are going to do, I'm going to end up closing my business," says Acosta.

He's owned his business for 50 years and now fears he might lose it.

Acosta has applied for the government's small business loan unsuccessfully. He's been told he's not eligible and there's not enough funds.

"I have seven girls, this is their livelihood. They depend on this, they have children, they have homes," he says.

Now there's a glimmer of hope.

On Friday, the mayor of Fresno announced an extension to the 'stay at home' order along with alterations allowing what the city is calling authorized businesses to open.

"An authorized business is technically a non-essential business that still provides essential goods and services for the community," says Mark Standriff with the city of Fresno. "We will have announcements I think coming out here in the next day or two, we are very excited about this process because we feel it is time."

Standriff says there is no application process, instead a business subcommittee will put business in categories, like retail and automotive, with the goal of reopening those deemed low-risk.

"For instance, if you are a specialty retailer, whether it is a furniture stores, clothing stores, even smaller department stores, once we approve that category for reopening, then as an authorized business you are automatically in."

They will then make a recommendation to city officials who will decide whether or not they move forward with it.

"Then our code enforcement officers will be going out to the businesses in that specific category to make sure that they understand what the protocols would be," he says.

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Mayor Lee Brand recently announced an extension of the city's shelter in place order along with modifications that will help low-risk businesses open their doors once more.

According to Standriff, the 'stay at home' order had to be extended in order to make adjustments on a local level.

He says had they not, the state order would have remained, and they wouldn't have been able to make modifications.

"It gives the city of Fresno the ability and the power to be able to move beyond what the threshold is that has been set by the state," says Standriff.

Acosta is now hoping those changes will apply to his business.

Many of his customers have been calling him hoping to meet with him by the end of next week.

He's even implemented social distancing measures at his salon in anticipation.

"We have separated our girls six feet apart," he says.

The owners of Beautiwood Unfinished Furniture in northeast Fresno are cautiously optimistic.

"We are very fortunate to be kind of on this list, but at the same time there was an announcement to keep the shelter in place order until May," says Jennifer Large.

Beautiwood has been around since the 60s, and just like many other family-owned businesses, they're being greatly impacted.

"When the doors are shut, that's it, no more income, no nothing," says Large.

The store is now looking at moving towards an appointment-based model if it is allowed to reopen.

Fresno's 'shelter in place' order has been extended until the end of May.

As an extra layer of protection for employees and fellow customers, people in Fresno will now be required to wear face masks in stores starting this Thursday.

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