Business · Fresno

Fresno to begin reopening retail businesses on Monday

After extending Fresno’s shelter-in-place order last week to May 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lee Brand announced Tuesday that the city will allow some retail businesses to reopen on May 11.

The move comes a little more than an hour after the County of Fresno urged City leaders to cancel their shelter-in-place order and replace them with the county’s less-restrictive health orders.

A handful of retail businesses will be allowed to reopen completely on May 11, while others will only be allowed to offer curbside-pickup.

“This is a big, bold first step in restoring Fresno’s economy and gives us much needed local control, with the collaboration of our partners at the county and state level, while still protecting the health and safety of our community to the best of our abilities,” Brand said in a statement.

“This is the right decision for Fresno at this stage of the pandemic, and I’m thankful to have the assistance of many very smart, caring and dedicated people who want the best for everyone in terms of public health and economic security.”

The following types of businesses will be able to completely open on May 11:

  • Auto, truck, boat, motorcycle, RV and mobile home sales
  • New construction
  • Furniture stores
  • Electronics and camera stores
  • Spa and pool stores
  • Lawn and garden equipment stores
  • Building and remodeling supply stores
  • Auctions

There is a key restriction, however, to these businesses: they can only allow one customer for every 500 square feet of floor space at a time.

All other retail businesses not in this initial group will only be allowed to offer contactless curbside pickup or delivery.

These businesses that have been chosen to open are considered authorized businesses by the city. All authorized businesses will be required to follow the city’s health-safety protocols to remain open.

Based on how the coronavirus numbers trend in Fresno, the city said that it may roll back the authorized business program or accelerate it.

“As soon as the state gives us the green light to reopen restaurant dining rooms, gyms, hair and nail salons and other close-contact businesses, then I will devote the resources of the city to get those very deserving and hard working people back to work,” Brand’s statement reads.

Many restaurants around the city had plans in place to reopen to dine-in customers on May 7, when the current shelter-in-place order was set to expire.

On Friday, Brand extended the order to May 31.

The move irked business owners left out of the extension – notably restaurateurs, including Elbow Room owner Mike Shirinian and Dave Fansler, who owns Pismo’s Coastal Grill, Yosemite Ranch and Westwoods BBQ & Spice Co.

For much of April, Fansler laid plans to re-open Pismo’s on May 7 to limited-capacity in-person dining, but those plans were dashed with the mayor’s announcement last week.

“Lee Brand needs to get the hell out of the way and turn it over to the county,” Fansler told The Sun. “It’s a county decision, and we should be working with the county.”

Fansler expressed his desire to reopen, but his hands are tied. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has threatened to have the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control pull liquor licenses from restaurants violating the state’s stay-at-home order.

The only option for restaurants is to work with the Fresno County Department of Public Health. Fansler said he has worked closely with the department and has submitted plans to reopen.

Under Newsom’s directive, expected to be released on Thursday, individual counties would be able to submit plans to the California Department of Public Health to accelerate restaurant and other industry reopenings.

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 daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.