Fresno Mayor Lee Brand announced Thursday that the city is lifting its shelter-in-place on May 26, allowing retail businesses to reopen after they were closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the city’s new order, all businesses and organizations that are prohibited by the state of California to reopen at this time will be required to remain closed, such as salons, barber shops and movie theaters.
“We’re taking a giant step forward today by taking our future and our destiny in our own hands,” Brand said. “We’re moving forward in a very safe and responsible manner to protect public health while getting our businesses open and our people back to work.”
The city is allowing restaurants to reopen under Fresno County’s guidance. An hour after Brand’s press conference, the California Department of Public Health announced Fresno County was authorized to expedite reopening, including dine-in restaurants.
Restaurants may reopen following the submission of paperwork to the Department of Public Health. County officials expect a number of restaurants in the City of Fresno and throughout the county to reopen on Friday.
All businesses that are currently open and will be opening on May 26 will have to follow social distancing protocols to protect employees and customers, Brand said.
“The city can no longer suffer the economic devastation of businesses closed, people out of work and the frustration and the despair that goes with that,” Brand said.
The order also eliminates the requirement for people to wear facemasks in public. However, people are still required to wear masks in governmental buildings and businesses in Fresno.
Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer said the order removes the requirement for businesses to only allow one customer per 500 square feet. The city will let business owners make their own decisions on safe social distancing practices.
Brand thanked Dyer, council president Miguel Arias, and councilmembers Luis Chavez, Mike Karbassi, Esmeralda Soria, Paul Caprioglio and Nelson Esparza “for their tremendous teamwork and collaboration to help get us to this point where we can make this announcement today.”
Councilman Garry Bredefeld was notably absent from Brand’s gratitude. Bredefeld has been outspoken against the shelter-in-place order and has been pushing the city to reopen for months.
Chavez announced that the city will support Fresno County with $10 million to help secure the approval from the state to move further along Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening plan. Of that total, $5 million will go toward increasing testing. The city will also help the county hire people to work as contact tracers to help the county understand the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community.
Karbassi announced that he, Chavez and Caprioglio will introduce a bill to the city council that would permit outdoor dining at restaurants in accordance with regulations from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
The ABC recently issued a temporary catering authorization which will allow restaurants and bars to use outdoor areas.