Fresno restaurant owners urge CA to let them reopen or show data on why they can't

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This should be a busy time of year for most restaurants, but restrictions brought on by COVID-19 have the industry teetering on disaster.

On Friday, local leaders were joined by business owners in Downtown Fresno to request specific data from the state about the decision to shut down the economy again.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across our region, local business owners are calling out Sacramento for what they say are inconsistent mandates. They want to see research that shows why they should be shut down or forced outdoors.

"Our businesses and our communities deserve a fact-based data driven and consistent approach related to COVID-19 restrictions," said Fresno Chamber CEO Nathan Ahle.

The Fresno Chamber of Commerce is also supporting Senator Andreas Borgeas' Senate Bill 74, otherwise known as the Keep California Working Act.

SB 74 would invest $2.6 billion, or 10% of California's projected surplus, in grants to help small businesses and employees that have sustained financial losses during the pandemic.

"SB 74 is already earning bipartisan support with over 25 co-sponsors in both the Assembly and the Senate," said State Senator Borgeas.

The bill includes an urgency clause so it can take effect immediately upon approval.

"We cannot wait for a second stimulus bill from gridlocked Washington DC. We have a moral obligation to handle this matter in California on an emergency basis," said Borgeas.

The food service industry has been severely impacted during the pandemic, and officials worry the latest stay-at-home order could be the final blow for a number of restaurants.

"It's been a difficult road for all of us, we have been flexible but we're tired of being flexible and doing everything we've been asked. We need to be open so we can be here next year," said Restaurant Association Fresno President Chuck Van Fleet.

Many restaurant owners have been forced to lay off much of their staff during the pandemic.

Officials estimate Fresno could lose up to 30% of all restaurants by the end of the year because of ongoing restrictions.
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