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Paso Robles City Council supports purple tier. What does that mean for businesses?

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 21:19:56-05

A special Paso Robles City Council meeting was called Thursday night to discuss the Governor's stay-at-home order and its impacts on local businesses.

In a unanimous vote, the city council voiced its opinion against a full shutdown. However, in a press release sent out Friday afternoon, the city made clear that if businesses defy the state's stay-at-home order, they can still face state and county repercussions.

The city council's support for businesses operating in the most restrictive tier is a move unlike any other city council in San Luis Obispo County.

In the purple tier, restaurants and wineries can serve outdoors.

"It's a big difference when you have outdoor seating here. You make enough to pay your bills," said Salome Morfin, La Mexicana Restaurant Owner. "When you're serving to-gos only and a few deliveries, you don't get enough to pay your bills."

Morfin says outdoor dining will prevent him from having to close down after more than 20 years in business.

"What hurts the most is I got 21 people working with me," Morfin said. "Those poor families would be out of work."

Blast & Brew also pointed out the importance of outdoor dining to keep business going.

"The weather doesn't cooperate when it's cold but what we're concerned about as business owners is taking care of our team members for the most part," said Guy McMains, Blast & Brew General Manager.

In a Zoom call with Mayor Steve Martin on Friday, he told KSBY the city believes the region should be operating under the purple tier but businesses are still on the hook for state licenses like liquor licenses, for example.

"Whatever actions those agencies may take on the basis of any noncompliance by those businesses is between those businesses and those agencies," Martin said. "The city doesn't get involved with that."

If county public health determines there's an egregious case in the city, the city will do education counseling and if there's no compliance, there's the possibility of an administrative citation.

Some community members say they're trying to support local during this time.

"I think that these people depend on our money locally," said Tim Berlingeri of Paso Robles. "We're not getting the tourism business that we used to."

Businesses like Hoyt Winery are hopeful things pick up as they get creative to keep business pouring in, like through tastings in a box.

"We certainly need it," said Kara Mugurian, Hoyt Winery Tasting Room attendant. "We certainly need all the help we can for Downtown Paso."

The topic will be discussed again during the council meeting this upcoming Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The city council also unanimously disagreed with the state's decision to include San Luis Obispo County in the Southern California region.

The mayor and councilmembers agreed to submit a letter in collaboration with the county's six other cities in favor of a new region with SLO, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.

We also reached out to San Luis Obispo County Public Health about Thursday night's meeting and were told, "We appreciate the Paso Robles City Council's support of creating a Central Coast Region for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. However, we must all acknowledge that this is a serious disease - more SLO County residents are dying from COVID-19, and we are experiencing more outbreaks and active cases in our county than at any other time during this pandemic. As individuals, we need to support the local business community without taking any undue risks that would worsen the pandemic in our county - stay home as much as you can, shop local retailers online, and order takeout or delivery. If you choose to go out, wear a face covering and keep your distance from those who don't live with you."