FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno County avoided sliding back into the most restrictive purple tier, Tuesday – meaning many businesses will be able to stay open and others will be able to continue operating indoors.
“It’s become a dangerous cycle of open, close, open, close, where you hire people, lose people, hire people, lose people. It’s taken its toll on the business,” Jesse Mendoza said.
Mendoza’s family owns three Clovis restaurants including Salsa’s Cantina. He said keeping the places staffed and running through the pandemic is nearly impossible.
Nathan Ahle of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce said for businesses the uncertainty has been the worst part.
“Businesses have to really plan ahead and it’s really difficult to not be able to plan in a pandemic situation like this not knowing week to week what things are going to look like,” he said.
Ahle said they’ve heard of dozens, if not hundreds, of places closing down. They’re now trying to help small business stay afloat and open safely by providing free supplies of PPE.
“I talked to a business owner today who says ‘I’m spending $300-$350 a month on masks’ and when you add that on top of not being open, not being able to be profitable, it makes a huge different,” he said.
Sean Clinton from GB3 said he’s just happy to be open and able to operate inside after it was announced Fresno County would remain in the red tier, despite warnings from health officials last week and uncertainty on how the state is calculating key numbers in its reopening criteria.
“Everybody’s coming in just like ‘We heard, we heard you’re staying open,’ and everybody’s happy. Last couple days people were concerned. There was so many different things floating around out there. No one really knew the true answer until today,” he said.
Mendoza said it was a relief to stay in the current tier, but it keeps restaurants at a 25% indoor capacity, and that’s not going to work long term.
“Even though our capacity has been reduced, our overhead hasn’t. Everything, our bills, rent, everything like that, that’s still coming in every month and that hasn’t dropped by 75% only our potential to earn an income has,” he said.
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce has already given out 20,000 masks. Ahle said they received 1,000,000 along with a supply of hand sanitizer. He said businesses with less than 100 employees can qualify for a 30-40 day supply. Information can be found at fresnochamber.com.