CALIFORNIA COALITION FOR SAFE RE-OPENING PRESENTS SOLUTIONS FOR SECURE AND EXPEDITIOUS REOPENING OF BUSINESS
COALITION OF CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS INSIST CALIFORNIA CREATE LONG-TERM REOPENING PLANS, SIMPLE AND ENFORCEABLE PROTOCOLS AND SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES EVISCERATED BY CLOSURE ORDERS
Following Governor Newsom’s order to temporarily close indoor dining and operations for restaurants in 19 counties less than a month after allowing them to reopen, a coalition of Chambers of Commerce and business associations throughout the state came together to formulate proposals for reopening California businesses in a logical and methodical manner that maintains the safety and health of customers, workers and the public. The California Coalition for Safe Re-Opening, building on previous efforts, proposed a Three Point Economic and Public Health Recovery Plan – immediate measures that should be considered prior to any more business shutdowns.
Those measures include:
1.) Require the State to use emergency funds to supplement funding for county health departments and enforcement divisions that oversee adherence to reopening regulations. That would include authorizing counties to grant immediate reopening for all restaurants and bars that demonstrate compliance with that county’s reopening regulations, in accordance with state regulations.
2.) The creation of a California COVID-19 Emergency Business Interruption Fund to provide grants to businesses to cover expenses related to safe reopening in June 2020, as well as all losses including displaced revenue related to the July 1st closure order and future unanticipated closures.
3.) Creation of a Safe Re-Opening Task Force which would work directly with state and local officials in the implementation of Mandatory Testing and creation of Recovery Centers as the dual alternative to shutting down segments of the economy.
The Coalition emerged over the last few months through unprecedented dialogue among local businesses, organizations and chambers throughout California, and their members, who, while understanding the necessity of closure orders in March, are frustrated with the lack of coordination of re-openings and the haphazard recent closure orders. The Coalition urges local and county governments to support the effort to promote safe, organized, methodical and long-term reopening schedules.
West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Chair and La Peer Hotel General Manager, Nick Rimedio stated, “We’re asking our cities and counties to publicly join their small businesses in the call for a return to common sense that protects communities from well-intentioned, but economically devastating public policy.”
The Coalition believes that safe re-openings and customer confidence are undermined by the most-recent closure orders issued by Governor Newsom. The recent order to close restaurants to indoor dining has created a volatile and toxic environment as restaurants were given no notice to open in LA County on May 30, only to be ordered shut two days later due to curfews and protests. Businesses then began to reopen in the middle of June, with the average investment in the tens of thousands of dollars between staffing, training, food product, and the supplies and equipment needed to comply with the county reopening orders. Now, after only two weeks of operation, they were ordered to close again with less than 12 hours’ notice, and no data showing that “indoor operations & dining” has any correlation to the spike in coronavirus cases. Businesses require stability and predictability, and the public needs confidence and certainty. Simply put, the economy cannot survive in an environment of “open one month, close it down the next month”, which is a dangerous precedence that threatens to impact all businesses under the guise of the “New Normal”.
“We all appreciate and understand that health concerns have to take a priority,” said Pasadena Chamber CEO Paul Little, “But our businesses, especially our restaurants, need stability to operate. Being allowed to reopen only to be told a few weeks later they must close immediately which took significant investment on the part of people to create a safe environment for patrons and staff only for it to be flushed it down the toilet. How can we expect anyone to invest in reopening when they could be ordered closed less than two weeks later? We need to see a coherent, long-term plan for reopening. One that we can be confident will remain in place.”
The business community understands the serious responsibility of being safe and ensuring protection for their employees and customers. When they open, they take risks, just as our essential grocery and pharmacy workers, taking daily risks by operating in the pandemic. Dining-in with the mandated protocols can be safer than shopping for your meal at a grocery store or other being out in public spaces. Business in our communities and throughout California continue to spend significant resources and money ensuring they are among the safest places for their customers and employees.
Holly Schroeder, President & CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation stated, “The Governor’s broad-brush order ignores regional differences within counties and the substantial actions individual businesses are taking to protect customers and employees. Businesses have spent considerable resources implementing required health protocols. The starting and stopping of these orders threatens their ability to continue operating and the livelihood of their employees. “
Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Rana Ghadban further drives this point home. “With the tireless work of the LA County Economic Resiliency Taskforce, which many of our businesses serve on, to craft the language and protocols for reopening in concert with the business community's commitment of time, resources and finances to meet and exceed those requirements, most businesses have created an environment that are among the safest places for their employees and customers to be.”
“We understand that there are bad actors in the business, as there are with some individuals.,” stated Colin Diaz, President and CEO of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce. “These businesses should be held responsible for their actions and neglect. But, this sweeping policy that punishes the responsible business owners, many of whom have spent small fortunes bringing their businesses up to an extremely safe environment, further creates hardship and will continue to have drastic consequences beyond what we have already seen. We will lose a great deal of our small businesses with every round of closures that our government imposes on the business community.”
In the proposed plan, business returns with COVID-19-related protection practices in place, including enhanced cleaning procedures, distancing, and safe service protocols. Government must invest in resources necessary to ensure that County Health measures are being adhered to. There must be adequate access to regular COVID-19 testing and the state must pass Legislation to fund the California COVID-19 Emergency Business Interruption Fund to cover losses related to all government and health department orders including forced closures, social distancing requirements, and gathering limits.
“Elected officials at every level in our state need to understand that the health and safety of employees and customers is paramount to any responsible business owner,” said Genevieve Morrill, President and CEO for the West Hollywood Chamber. “They also need to know how tenuous the existence of almost every business in the state of California is right now.”
MORE ABOUT THE COALITION
The California Coalition for Safe Reopening consists of local chambers of commerce and business and trade associations. Responding to the current COVID-19 emergency, the Coalition advocates for safe, reasonable, and predictable reopening plans in California that ensure the health of every resident, worker, and customer.
The growing list of the organizations participating includes:
BizFed LA - Los Angeles County Business Federation NAIOP SoCal
Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce Norwalk Chamber of Commerce
BOMA Greater Los Angeles Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association
California Restaurant Association Pomona Chamber of Commerce
Century City Chamber of Commerce Redding Chamber of Commerce
Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce San Pedro Chamber of Commerce
Culver City Chamber of Commerce Santa Clarita Valley Economic Partnership
Downtown Center Business Improvement District Santa Fe Springs Chamber of Commerce
El Monte South El Monte Chamber of Commerce Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce
Glendale Chamber of Commerce Torrance Chamber of Commerce
Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce Tulare Chamber of Commerce
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Venice Chamber of Commerce Westside Council of Chambers of Commerce
JMC2 Engineering Valley Industry Commerce Association Yorba Linda Chamber of Commerce
La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
Malibu Chamber of Commerce Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce
Monrovia Chamber of Commerce
Murrieta Wildomar Chamber of Chamber