When Fresno County moved into the “red tier” of California’s COVID-19 containment blueprint on Tuesday, it allowed many shuttered businesses to reopen. But not all.
The loosening of restrictions comes on the heels of a rally last Thursday at Fresno City Hall, where a number of business owners gathered to say they would open on October 1 no matter what. But now, the tone of the group’s purpose, and even the group’s name has changed.
Meanwhile, bars and businesses deemed “non-essential” are still not allowed to open. GV Wire℠ found a local strip club and indoor golf facility are still planning on opening, apparently in defiance of state guidelines.
Open Central California Safely on October 1st 2020 Facebook Group
“We’re not going to support anyone going rogue and just opening up. We want to open and keep public safety on top of everyone’s mind.”–Lewis Everk, business owner and advocate
Lewis Everk, owner of Vyxn Restaurant & Lounge and creator of the Facebook group ‘Open Central California Safely on October 1st 2020‘ (formerly Open Fresno County Safely October 1st) tells GV Wire℠ over the phone the group has always been clear about its mission.
Everk spoke to GV Wire℠ right after one of his many conversations he’s had with Mayor Lee Brand.
“We’re not going to support anyone going rogue and just opening up. We want to open and keep public safety on top of everyone’s mind,” says Everk.
He says Vyxn Restaurant & Lounge will open on Thursday at 7 p.m. in keeping with the promise he’d made to customers. Tables will be spaced 6 feet apart and he’ll abide with the state’s indoor dining rules of 25% capacity or 100 or less people. Everk says COVID-19 restrictions have been difficult for him, noting he’s let go of half of his employees during the shutdown.
He says members of his group are still not happy with how some businesses have been treated. “Bars have been left out to dry. A 10% capacity for gyms is not equitable,” says Everk.
He says the goal of the more than 20,000 members of his group is to make sure the county doesn’t go back into the purple tier. He believes such a move would be too costly and put some people out of business for good.
Indoor Mini-Golf Center Plans to Reopen Friday
Despite state guidelines stating family entertainment centers can only operate outdoors while Fresno County is in the red tier, indoor mini-golf center Ghost Golf appears to be readying for a Friday opening.
On Tuesday, the Blackstone Ave. business posted a message on Facebook detailing their plans.
“At Ghost Golf we are striving to provide a safe environment for fun family entertainment so we will be abiding by CDC guidelines and practicing social distancing as well as requiring masks for all guests and staff. We have reconfigured the place to allow a very safe environment,” the post said.
The notice said capacity would be reduced “to 25% on the course so there will be at least two holes between groups.”
Gold Diggers Gentleman’s Club
Also on social media, the operators of Gold Diggers Gentleman’s Club on Golden State Blvd. announced their intention to open Thursday.
The business had posted previous messages about its involvement with the “Open Fresno Safely Movement” and plans for an Oct. 1 reopening.
Adult businesses are not directly described as part of the state’s guidelines. But in a June 28 social media post, Gold Diggers said it was temporarily shutting down because, “the state of California has ordered closure of Fresno County bars…”
“The City of Fresno will continue working with our local businesses to open safely.”–City of Fresno spokesman Mark Standriff
The LA Times reported in March that a strip club in Southern California was shut down because it was considered a “non-essential” business.
California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy website says non-essential businesses can only work remotely.
City of Fresno Response
City of Fresno spokesman Mark Standriff says code enforcement inspectors are only responding to complaints over potential violations of business restrictions.
“The City of Fresno will continue working with our local businesses to open safely. Code Enforcement will remain focused, first and foremost, on educating businesses on the state’s Tier 2 restrictions. They will reserve any possible penalties for egregious or repeated violations,” said Standriff in a message to GV Wire℠.
The Shanty Bar and Lounge
At a September 3 rally outside Yosemite Falls Cafe on Blackstone Ave., the owner of the Shanty Bar and Lounge made an impassioned plea on stage.
“If I can’t get open in the next three weeks, I don’t think I can open back up,” said owner Jeannette Butcher.
“If I can’t get open in the next three weeks, I don’t think I can open back up.”– Jeannette Butcher, Shanty Bar and Lounge owner
GV Wire℠ called the bar Wednesday morning to see if she was planning on reopening on October 1. A friend who answered the phone said Butcher was on vacation and is not planning on opening right away. He said Butcher wants to wait a couple of weeks to see how things go.
California Restaurant Association
Chuck Van Fleet, owner of Vino Grille & Spirits and president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association tells GV Wire℠ by phone that all his members are planning to abide by state guidelines.
“We (restaurants) are only opening at 25% of our indoor capacity,” says Van Fleet. “Also, the state health department doesn’t want anyone sitting at the bar top. We will abide by that.”
Van Fleet partially opened his restaurant on Tuesday. He had already been taking reservations starting last Thursday when it appeared the county’s COVID-19 numbers were continuing to go down.