Visalia jewelry store reopens, defying state stay at home order

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- "AND JUST LIKE THAT!!! WE'RE OPEN!!!"

That was the message from Ashoori Jewelers to their customers on Monday morning.

Owner Sarah Ashoori declined an on-camera interview with us on Wednesday but confirmed her store is now open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ashoori says her business has gone six weeks without income, and despite being approved for the paycheck protection program, has not received any relief to date.

Jewelry stores are not mentioned in the list of essential workers under the governor's stay at home order.

But Ashoori says they made the decision to reopen because the business is her family's livelihood, and she also feels obligated to take care of her employees.

"And I don't envy those folks as they're making decisions about how to continue to keep a roof over their own heads, to provide food for their family, pay for the medical bills that they have," said Visalia Chamber of Commerce CEO Gail Zurek. "So as a chamber we aren't casting judgment when folks are doing everything that they can to be entrepreneurial and to try and quite frankly provide for their families."

Ashoori Jewelers has a list of safety precautions on their front door.

They're not allowing more than six people in at a time, and asking customers to use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing using markings on the floor.

Workers are wearing masks, but they're not requiring that customers do the same.

And they're requesting those who are sick or have a compromised immune system to not come in at all.

Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian sympathizes with small businesses who are struggling right now.

But she's concerned by the store's decision to reopen-she thinks it could create an avalanche of businesses who choose to follow suit.

"Some people think that well, the rural areas (aren't as bad)," Shuklian said. "But look how many cases we have. There are rural areas that have more cases than urban areas."

The city of Visalia has not come up with its own rules related to who can and can't be open during the pandemic.

However, city officials say they always have the authority to issue warnings and administrative citations if a business creates a health and safety problem.

If she receives a warning from the city, Ashoori says she will respect it and close again.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.