Fresno 'shelter in place' lifts Tuesday, restaurants can open immediately

The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, also eliminates the COVID-19 enforcement duties for the city, unless there are flagrant violations by a business that present an immediate danger.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE - The City of Fresno has updated an announcement it made earlier on Thursday, saying that while its 'shelter in place' order won't end until May 26, restaurants can open immediately.

Dine-in restaurants can reopen immediately, once they self-certify online with Fresno County.

Original story follows.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says the city will lift its shelter-in-place order on Tuesday, May 26, allowing businesses to open with modifications.

"We've taken a giant step forward today by taking our future and our destiny in our own hands," said Mayor Lee Brand on Thursday at City Hall.

Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer said that residents will not be required to wear masks in public, but they are encouraged to do so. The order requires people to wear masks only when they go inside businesses or government buildings, but makes an exception for people who are seated to eat.

The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, also eliminates the COVID-19 enforcement duties for the city, unless there are flagrant violations by a business that present an immediate danger.

The order allows retail stores to open and restaurant dining rooms to reopen once they receive approval from the Fresno County Department of Public Health and state. They'll also be held to social distancing protocols put together by the city.
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Fresno mayor-elect Jerry Dyer outlines what restrictions will be lifted on Tuesday, May 26.

Hours after the announcement, Fresno County received approval from the state of California to move further into Phase 2.5 of reopening businesses. This means dine-in restaurants can reopen immediately, but with precautions laid out by the new emergency order.

According to the city's website, Fresno has eliminated the guideline of allowing only one customer per 500 square feet, and now only requires businesses to provide enough space for six-feet social distancing.

Social distancing requirements will decide how many people can get inside.

"Social distancing might allow one restaurant to open 80% or 90% capacity," said city council president Miguel Arias. "Others it might limit that."

The Council also approved an order to allow outdoor dining in common areas of shopping centers and parking lots to encourage social distancing.

"It's time for Fresno to get back to work," Dyer said. "The vast majority of people that live in the city of Fresno want businesses to open in a very safe and responsible manner so they can feel comfortable going into that business."

Officials announced that the city will be spending $5 million to increase testing efforts in Fresno. During his time at the podium, Councilmember Luis Chavez blasted the county for its testing efforts, saying it's now testing at a level it should have been testing at two months ago.

Code enforcement will still watch out for egregious violations putting public health at risk, but otherwise all punishments for violations will be lifted.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi added that he'll be introducing legislation that would rescind all existing fines for business citations in the city.

City leaders believe the stricter 'shelter in place' order saved lives and made sure Fresno didn't contribute to overwhelming the healthcare system.

The numbers are still high, though, including two new deaths reported Thursday, bringing the total to 22 - 13 of which have been reported in the last ten days. The curve hasn't quite flattened here, so the city is recommending vulnerable people continue to stay home.

And they're hoping everybody will get on board with the protections they put into the new order.

"So if you don't want to take these precautions for yourself please take them for your grandparents, for your uncle that has a heart condition, your aunt that has diabetes, or your daughter that has asthma," said city council member Luis Chavez.

The state's "stay at home" order still limits which businesses can open, but the city is offering $10 million to help the county improve its testing and contact tracing to help curb the virus to get more open sooner.

"We've also created a framework to get the county and the state to allow us to open up the rest of the businesses -- like beauty parlors, hair salons, nail salons, gyms, health clubs, tattoo shops and more," said Mayor Brand. "And we're also doing our best to allow you to return to church."

Governor Newsom is working with religious leaders on a safe way to open churches to smaller gatherings.

The rest of those businesses will have to wait for Phase 3, which the governor says could come within a matter of weeks.

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