Tough requirements for restaurant reopenings

News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — Dozens of local restaurants have high hopes of welcoming diners soon on a limited basis. But it’s going to be tougher than many may have thought.

Gov. Newsom has announced strict guidelines for counties to meet before diners can be seated. That has one local restaurant owner saying enough is enough.

Lewis Everk owns 5 restaurants– four in Fresno, one in Clovis– including Vyxn near Woodward Park. Two are offering take-out and he says barely breaking even.

“We can not afford this shutout any longer. We need to open up now,” Everk says.

He has masks for his staff, cases of sanitizer, and is ready to reopen for dine-in, but like many restaurant owners, he says his hands are tied.

“We are accumulating day by day, month by month, week by week, more and more debt,” he says.

California is beginning phase two of the state’s reopening plan. Designated low risk retailers and manufacturers may now open with curb-side pick up. But the next phase of openings for restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops, comes with much stricter requirements for counties.

The requirements include a COVID-19 testing level of 150 test per 100,000 residents– that’s about 15,00 tests a day for Fresno County. It also requires fifteen contact tracers per 100,000 residents. And there’s one more requirement that Fresno County admits is problematic. It involves COVID-19 deaths.

“The one that really jumps out to me is no COVID related deaths in the past 14 days. That is a very high bar to meet,” says Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Reusseau.

A high bar to meet, and no designated timeline. The county says it’s working hard and fast to meet those requirements.

“We know that businesses are chomping at the bit to open up and we really want to help them get there,” says Reusseau.

The question is: will the county get there fast enough? “I feel we’ve done our part. It’s time for the city of Fresno and the county of Fresno to do their part to get us back to work,” says Everk.

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