Updated 5:34 p.m.
It’s time for bars, breweries, clubs and wineries to temporarily shut their doors in Sacramento to slow the spread of the coronavirus — that was Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s message at a Sunday afternoon press conference.
“We know that these decisions and these requests will in fact require real sacrifices,” said Steinberg. “Nobody at all has any illusions about the real economic harm for our businesses and for our workers … But our sacrifices will also keep people alive and help keep people safe and healthy.”
The announcement falls in line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Sunday announcement doing the same statewide to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Both moves at this point are voluntary, but Steinberg said stricter enforcement could be taken.
"St. Patrick's Day is Tuesday night and I would expect to see those bars closed. Period, end of story,” said Steinberg. “If that doesn't happen, that may mean that there needs to be more serious measures."
Neither the governor or mayor asked for restaurants to be closed, but both are calling for the home isolation of all people 65 and older in the state, as well as other vulnerable populations.
To the Sacramento community: We must all fully embrace the direction @GavinNewsom articulated today. This will require us all to make real sacrifices, but they are necessary to slow the progress of this pandemic. Our sacrifices will keep people alive.— Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) March 15, 2020
On Wednesday, Newsom discouraged large gatherings of over 250 people and recommended “social distancing” for small gatherings, which requires standing at least six feet apart from others.
Addressing shopping panic for essentials, the mayor has a message for Sacramentans.
“Do not hoard, because you're making it very difficult for others, you're making it very, very difficult for the nonprofit's that are trying to serve the most vulnerable populations,” said Steinberg. “If you in fact are finding a place where you can buy massive quantities of toilet paper, paper towels, or eggs, it's not necessary. There will be enough for everybody.”
As a result he said some stores, like Raley’s, are beginning to limit the amount of basic foodstuffs people can buy.
Planning For Businesses
On top of calling for bars, clubs and the like to close immediately, Steinberg urged restaurants to figure out alternative ways to do business.
“I strongly, strongly prefer that our restaurants move immediately to curbside pickup and home delivery,” said Steinberg. “Understanding that [the governor’s] announcement does allow people to dine in restaurants as long as the occupancy is reduced by 50 percent, that is still allowable, our strong preference here again is that we move rapidly to take out.”
He also noted the city is working with on-demand food delivery apps for more restaurants to opt in without startup fees.
“Postmates has already announced for businesses on their platform that they're waiving commission fees, and they'll also waive fees for new businesses and new food establishments that join,” said Steinberg.
He said the city is also establishing a hotline where small businesses and workers can talk to a live person for advice and assistance with unemployment or small business forms. When pressed about the impact this would have on people who depend on food service jobs he said, “If we don't do this, the potential health impact and the potential economic impact on those working people may be much worse. While this is not a state mandate now, it very well might become one and it could even be broader.”
I feel for our small businesses, restaurants and working people who will face economic hardship as a result. We are working round the clock with our business and labor communities and state government to do all we can to help. #coronavirus— Darrell Steinberg (@Mayor_Steinberg) March 15, 2020
The Sacramento City Council voted Friday to create a $1 million economic relief package for local businesses such as restaurants, stores and day cares. It may also provide zero-interest loans of up to $25,000.
In addition, Steinberg said Sunday that the city is working with the state Legislature and the governor’s office on a separate package to go beyond the $1 million.
“I believe the cavalry will come from a lot of directions over the course of the next couple of days or weeks to try to help out all of our individuals and businesses who were understandably worried about what this means for their lives,” said Steinberg.
The city also voted last week to make metered parking free after 4:30 p.m. for 30 days, to provide assistance for families of students that need food if schools close and to provide help for unemployed workers.
Protecting Seniors, Homeless
Both Newsom and Steinberg said the precautions are to protect people 65 years or older and other vulnerable groups. Steinberg says city workers who choose to stay home will not lose wages or be harmed in any way.
“We want to urge anyone over age 65 to stay indoors, and also those with underlying medical conditions,” said Steinberg. He said extra care will be needed to help these populations and that food delivery will need to be ramped up.
Another group he is worried about are those experiencing homelessness. The City Council voted Friday to provide $250,000 for emergency sanitation and cleaning supplies for people without homes.
“The vast majority of people ... who are on the street, we still believe would come in voluntarily if they had any decent choice,” said Steinberg. “There may be some who would not and in that case, I think we have to figure out how it is we would bring people indoors.”
He says expediting the state’s desire to bring people indoors could be the only good result of this pandemic.
“Everyone needs to be indoors and if we can use this crisis, this terrible crisis, to actually take the next steps to find enough beds, enough shelter, enough navigation centers, enough permanent housing, enough permanent supportive housing to dramatically reduce the number of people that are on our streets, that would be an incredible silver lining out of a most difficult time,” Steinberg said.
Watch the press conference here:
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