On Friday afternoon, the city council in the small town of Atwater, California defied California governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order and voted to declare itself a “sanctuary city” for businesses. The city council stated that its move “affirms the city’s commitment to fundamental constitutional rights,” ABC30 reported.
— Vanessa Vasconcelos (@VanessaABC30) May 15, 2020
Atwater Mayor Paul Creighton exhorted, “This is America. You have the choice. It’s time for the government to stop dictating another month, another three months, six months. When is it going to end? When everyone is bankrupt?”
“At the Friday meeting, most people coming up to speak were for the sanctuary city reopening, not to mention members of the City Council and the Mayor voicing approval as well,” the California Globe reported.
Councilman Brian Raymond, who proposed the sanctuary city declaration, noted that some Californian cities, such as Coalinga, have simply declared that all businesses as being essential. But Raymond also noted that no city had declared itself a sanctuary city for businesses until Atwater.
Although the city, which is located in Merced County and has a population of roughly 28,000, is open for business, businesses that are regulated by the state could have their licenses revoked, which may inhibit them from opening. Creighton advised, “We’re not looking to jeopardize anyone’s business. That’s a license you hold with the state of California. So, we don’t want to cause any harm there, use your best judgment.”
Churches will be permitted to reopen; Victory Baptist church pastor Richard Miller announced that on Sunday he would hold outdoor services, adding that having temporarily held service online had “actually helped us to be more educated on how to keep things clean and reach out to people who can’t make it out to church.”
“Counties that feel their area is ahead of California’s curve are required to meet certain guidelines to move further into Phase 2. Merced County is not one of the counties approved to do so,” ABC30 noted.
On May 5, as California moved to Stage 2 of reopening, Newsom stated, “We’re not going back to normal. It’s a new normal with adaptations and modifications, until we get to immunity and a vaccine.” The San Francisco Chronicle noted of Stage 2:
Schools, summer programs, childcare facilities and low-risk businesses will reopen with adaptations and modifications to promote social distancing … Dr. Sonia Angell Angel, director of the California Department of Public Health, said retail may be allowed to reopen with curbside pickup and non-essential manufacturing for products such as clothing and toys could restart.
The Chronicle reported on May 5, “The new Bay Area order prohibits most retail from opening through May 31. Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara have allowed essential businesses such as grocery stores to remain open during the pandemic and on Monday allowed outdoor retailers such as plant nurseries to welcome back customers.”
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