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Waffle Shop Owner Ammar Ibrahim speaks on May 11 during a press conference hosted by Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld. Photo by Edward Smith

published on November 16, 2020 - 2:48 PM
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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday — a day earlier than expected — that 40 counties moved to more restrictive Covid-19 safety tiers, including Kings and Fresno counties.

Ammar Ibrahim, owner of the Waffle Shop in Fresno that was the site of lockdown protests in May, said he will stay open despite Fresno County return to the purple tier, which means 25% indoor capacity for all retail stores, shopping centers and malls, and outdoor only operations for restaurants, movie theaters, family entertainment centers and gyms.

“I just laughed,” Ibrahim said of his initial reaction to Gov. Newsom’s announcement.

“They want to shut us down, yet none of the bills stop,” Ibrahim said.

He said despite being fined for staying open, he needs to make money to pay his bills, which he added, do not come at a 25% reduced rate like the state’s red-tier capacity.

“They want to get paid in full, yet we don’t get paid in full. It just doesn’t add up,” Ibrahim said.

Ian Williams, operations manager of Fresno Ag Hardware, said he’ll once again have to monitor capacity of how many customers enter the store at one time.

“Are we shocked that this happened? No, probably not,” Williams said.

“It’s just so tough,” he added.

Though Fresno Ag Hardware never had to shut down, he feels bad for small businesses who are depending on people gathering in stores and restaurants.

“A lot of them are hanging on by a thread,” Williams said.

Most have worked to stay open and keep to county guidelines, only to shut down or at least reduce capacity. The outlook for more federal relief, such as loans for employers under the Paycheck protection Program (PPP), is uncertain.

“A lot of people have already burned through that PPP money,” Williams said.

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