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Shelby Ramos, owner of Evolve Dance Co., was also present at the announcement. She said that smoke and heat has made operating outside nearly impossible. Photo by Edward Smith

published on September 16, 2020 - 2:47 PM
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Recognizing the threat the pandemic holds for small businesses, two strategies are coming from City of Fresno officials to allow businesses to reopen. One, from the Mayor’s office comes a letter asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow limited, safe, indoor dining. The other would take a more direct route.

Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld held a press conference Wednesday announcing the details of four resolutions he will bring before the council.

The first resolution — the Business Freedom Act — would stop City of Fresno code enforcement from preventing businesses from reopening as long as they operate under guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The second resolution would compel the city to file charges against the state for its enforcement of codes that prevent businesses from reopening. A third resolution would open city hall to the public and the fourth ends what Bredefeld calls the “snitch hotline.”

“If we do this locally, it sends a message to the state where we’re not buying what you’re selling,” said Bredefeld.

Bredefeld held the press conference with several business owners who have been vocal about the impact state-ordered closures have had on their business.

Lewis Everk, owner of Everk Hospitality Group and Manny Perales, owner of Yosemite Falls Café and High Sierra Grill — which closed at the beginning of September — both spoke about the impact not being able to open has had on their restaurant.

Perales said the current rules for restaurants in Fresno County are “based on 1 million people and their behaviors.”

Everk and Perales held a meeting with 150 businesses to discuss opening Oct. 1 regardless of the rules.

Everk also mentioned programs from the City of Fresno to fund outdoor patios.

“It’s not enough to hand businesses a few thousand dollars,” Everk said.

Bredefeld said he would support these businesses so long as they follow CDC guidelines.

Shelby Ramos, owner of Evolve Dance Co., was also present at the announcement. She said that smoke and heat has made operating outside nearly impossible.

Paul Watson, owner of Warrior Fitness in Fresno, also said he has been unable to open.

Originally scheduled for Wednesday as well, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand had planned to announce a letter he had penned to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to allow indoor dining. The announcement was postponed because other mayors in Fresno County had expressed an interest in signing on, according to Mark Standriff, spokesman for the Mayor’s office.

Bredefeld was not a signatory on the letter.

“The bottom line is the letter is not gong to change anything,” he said.

The current infection rate in the area may warrant bringing Fresno County into the next tier, according to Gov. Newsom’s newest reopening plan.

Those restrictions are still going to hurt business, said Bredefeld. The next stage would allow restaurants, gyms, churches and others to allow indoor service at 25% of capacity.

Bredefeld says businesses need certainty and feels the goal post will move again.

“That’s why I want to sue the state,” said Bredefeld. “To initiate litigation for their unconstitutional and tyrannical actions which is shutting down businesses, shutting down schools and shutting down churches.”

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