Clovis · Visalia

Clovis, Visalia take different approaches to reopening from pandemic

Clovis and Visalia are taking two different approaches to removing their shelter-in-place orders.

At a Clovis City Council meeting Monday, the council voted to lift the city’s stay-at-home order and defer to the state.

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state will start reopening certain low-risk retail businesses on Friday.

As for potential consequences for small businesses re-opening, the City of Clovis is declining to actively enforce and cite businesses for operating in violation of the statewide order.

The City Council also approved two letters to send to Newsom regarding reopening and financial help.

In the first letter, the council argued that Clovis needs a different reopening strategy than other parts of California.

“As the elected body of the City of Clovis, we are requesting that you pursue an aggressive strategy for reopening our city for business,” the letter reads. “One size does not fit all. A reopening process that may fit and make sense for the Los Angeles and Bay Area regions does not work for our city.”

The city said that it would follow the Federal government’s guidelines to ensure a safe reopening.

“We would expect the initial reopening phase to still include proper social distancing, continued emphasis on frequent hand washing, retained isolation of at risk groups, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), sanitizing, a requirement to wear face covering when entering any business or group, limiting of group gatherings to no more than 50 persons and not allowing sports gatherings with spectators,” the letter reads.

The city council also said that it would prohibit communion in churches if they were allowed to reopen.

“Opening churches, mosques and synagogues for worship could be allowed, again with social distancing, prohibition of communion, passing the collection plate, hand shaking including the peace greeting and any hugging or contact between congregates and the worship leader,” the letter reads.

In the second letter, the council asked Newsom for financial help, citing a study from the League of California Cities that projected a revenue shortfall of nearly $7 billion dollars in California cities over the next two fiscal years.

The city asked Newsom to take the following three actions: dedicate $7 billion in direct aid from state funds to cover sales tax shortfalls over the next two fiscal years, allocate some of California’s $8.4 billion CARES Act funding to cities, and provide cities with financing options for immediate cash flow needs.

Visalia nearly took a step further than Clovis on Monday. The Visalia City Council appeared to be in agreement to disregard the state’s shelter-in-place order and reopen the city on Tuesday.

However, City Attorney Kenneth Richardson stepped in before the city council completed the motion.

“I advise against any affirmative action that contravenes any of the Governor’s directives, which are lawful orders,” Richardson said. “I would avoid a formal motion that contradicts the state.”

Visalia’s City Council voted to hold a special meeting later in the week to revisit the issue to reopen Visalia.

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at [email protected]