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Calling it a dramatic change in policy, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand announced in a Thursday news conference the end of the city’s shelter-in-place order effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, May 26.

The new COVID-19 rules also ended a requirement that people wear a face mask in public, making it voluntary. Enforcement of the rule to wear a mask when shopping up will be left up to businesses.

Restaurants can open Tuesday — provided Fresno County receives approval to further reopen the economy from Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“We hope that will be any day now,” Brand said.

The mayor said that the new plan would protect residents vulnerable to the coronavirus while “getting our people back to work.”

Brand also said the new policies would create “the framework” for the opening of hair salons, barbershops, gyms, and tattoo parlors.

“And we are doing our best to help people return to church.”

You can read an updated version of the story at this link.

The city of Fresno’s new COVID-19 guidelines are presented at a news conference on Thursday, May 20, 2020. (David Taub/GV Wire)

Chavez’s Proposal

Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez floated a five-point plan this week to reopen the city, which would encourage only those vulnerable populations to shelter-in-place, and ease restrictions on businesses opening.

— Luis Chavez

Chavez’s plan has not been placed on today’s city council agenda, so it would need to come through an emergency meeting, a method council has used several times during the pandemic.

In a late add to the agenda, the city council will consider exempting outdoor dining from environmental review laws.

As Chavez will appear at the mayor’s news conference, it’s likely that some of his ideas have been incorporated into Brand’s plan.

Also scheduled to appear with Brand at the announcement are city council president Miguel Arias, District 2 councilman Mike Karbassi, and mayor-elect Jerry Dyer.

Other Counties Move to Advance Reopen

Madera, Kings, Merced, and Kern counties were all given a green light from the state Wednesday to immediately reopen dine-in restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses shuttered by the pandemic.

Fresno has been under a shelter-in-place order since March 19, the same day the state issued a similar order.

The city has slowly eased restrictions on businesses. This week, all retail businesses were allowed to operate at some level, either with curbside pickup or restricted customer access for stores considered “low-traffic.” Masks are required to shop, but enforcement is left up to the businesses.

Council Refuses to Hear Alternate Proposal

The Fresno City Council was scheduled to hear an alternate plan at 10:15 a.m. from councilman Garry Bredefeld that would rescind 16 emergency orders enacted since March 16.

In a procedural move, Arias removed the item from the agenda. Bredefeld asked for the hearing to be re-added. He did not receive a second to his motion.

During his council report time, Bredefeld criticized the council and Brand for their handling of the pandemic.

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