The precise loss to the Fresno economy is incalculable at this point, but a look at the dollars generated annually by businesses such as salons and barbershops, gyms, movie theaters, and sports teams indicates it’s substantial.
And that begs the question: What gains in coronavirus containment must Fresno County (and others) achieve to get off the watch list?
Watch List Adds to Business Restrictions
Doing so would loosen restrictions on some businesses that are currently limited to outdoor operations only, including personal care services, fitness centers, and shopping malls. Houses of worship would also be able to resume indoor services and offices for “non-critical infrastructure sectors” could reopen.
But exiting the state’s monitoring list won’t result in a complete reopening of the local economy. Statewide restrictions would still prevent restaurants from offering dine-in service. Bars, pubs and breweries could still only be open only if they offer sit down, outdoor dining and sell alcohol in combination with a meal. Indoor entertainment facilities, museums and cardrooms must remain closed.
“It would be difficult to put our finger on the value of how much dollars are lost as a result of the watch list per se,” said Will Oliver, vice president of business services for the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.
“But, absolutely, I think that we will see tremendous losses, millions of dollars for the losses.”
Arts and Entertainment Generates $252 Million a Year in Fresno County
The industry most visibly affected by the closures is arts and entertainment, which Fresno EDC said, accounts for $252 million in gross domestic product yearly in Fresno County.
Softening the blow was the reopening of Table Mountain Casino, as the county’s casino sector contributes $47 million a year to the economy. But gyms and recreation centers generate $33 million and sports teams check in at $24 million.
Movie theaters, which surprisingly aren’t counted as arts and entertainment, are categorized by themselves. They produce $15 million in yearly GDP.