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October 23, 2020
The Honorable Gavin Newsom Governor of California
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: COVID-19 Restaurant Reopening Plan
Dear Governor Newsom:
The Covid-19 public health and economic crisis continues to devastate the local restaurant community in Santa Barbara County. While we appreciate the complexity of the ongoing crisis and the actions you have taken to date, we see first-hand the continued economic and employment fallout. As a former Mayor and restaurateur yourself, we trust you can imagine the toll on local citizenries, budgets, and community.
Many restaurants have closed, putting thousands of people out of work. Many more will close permanently if you don’t allow a workable pathway to safe, indoor dining in the very near future.
While outdoor dining has helped some restaurants, it has certainly not been the wide-scale savior some expected – as we have seen be the case with our neighbors to the North and South who have been impacted by the wildfires, our Central Coast communities have suffered from poor air quality as a consequence to these natural disasters. Soon, seasonal and temperature changes will also render patio dining much less practical.
Restaurants closed for the greater public good as a result of your orders. Limiting operations to take- out, delivery, and patio dining results in far fewer employees on payrolls and is unsustainable as a business model for our local restaurants.
We have yet to see contact tracing data to support bringing an entire economic sector to a
halt. Restaurants have been very productive partners with you, are among the largest sources of state and local sales tax revenue, employ massive numbers of California residents, and now they need your help desperately. They have risen to your calls since the outset of the epidemic at incredible personal cost and loss of lifelong dreams – the state has a moral obligation to help them get to the other side of this crisis.
The County of Santa Barbara has consistently enforced all state and local COVID-19 regulations and remains committed to protecting public health while helping restaurants operate in a safe manner and at sustainable indoor capacity levels. The current tier system crushes the local restaurant community as a result of COVID-19 spread outside of their facilities and influence. Restaurants have some of the most stringent industry protocols and guidance issued by the state and enhanced by local Health Orders.
Restaurants need to be able to move back inside in a safe and immediate manner with an achievable pathway to 75% occupancy. Please help us protect our community jobs, economy, and public health.
We respectfully ask that you continue to improve upon the state tiered program by providing restaurants a more realistic pathway to getting back inside – as soon and as safely as possible.
KRISTEN MILLER | President/CEO
SANTA BARBARA SOUTH COAST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (805) 967-2500 ext. 108 | Kristen@SBSCChamber.com
On behalf of the Santa Barbara County Chambers of Commerce