Atwater, California has declared itself a ‘Sanctuary City for Business,’ allowing businesses, nonprofits, and churches to reopen. The city council passed the resolution on Friday. (ABC) They are the second city in California to defy the Governors orders – the first was Coalinga, that simply declared ALL businesses as essential.
“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?” Atwater Mayor Paul Creighton.
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— Vanessa Vasconcelos (@VanessaABC30) May 15, 2020
Not all of the city’s businesses will likely follow the resolution, as some of them hold state of California business licenses – such as hair and nail salons. They could have their licenses pulled by the state for defying the Governor’s orders.
“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.” Mayor Creighton
The idea was brought by Councilman Brian Raymond prior to the meeting.
The Merced SunStar reported:
“What I see and what I hear, is that we’re in an economic state of emergency and that’s what we need to act on,” Raymond said.
“We need to take a strong step forward. We need to challenge the governor (and) challenge the state on their unconstitutional rulings, and we need to become a sanctuary city for small business so they know they can operate in peace without having the strong arm of the government coming down upon them.”
Raymond told the Sun-Star his idea is similar to cities like Coalinga, who declared all businesses essential in defiance of the governor’s four stages of reopening. But Atwater would likely be the first to use the term sanctuary city in this way, he said.
The thought is that all businesses could reopen with modifications, if they so wish, Raymond said. Preventative safety measures would be left to the business owner and patron’s discretion.
Raymond said his only reservation is the state coming after business licenses, which the city doesn’t have the jurisdiction to protect.
“I don’t want to do anything that’s gonna hurt the residents,” he said. “I don’t want the City of Atwater coming after them, and it sounds like the county isn’t coming after them.”
Atwater, California, a town of about 30,000, is in Merced County, which is not “approved” to move into Phase 2 reopening. The resolution simply states that the city will NOT enforce the Governor’s rigid stay-at-home order, and allows any businesses that choose to do so to reopen. They get to choose. What a concept.
The Sheriff of Merced County, Vern Warnke, told the SunStar that his office will not be enforcing the state’s restrictions on businesses whether essential or nonessential. They will enforce quarantine orders only if someone has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
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