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Protesters take to Santa Maria streets in favor of reopening economy

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Posted at 8:19 PM, May 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 23:19:10-04

As the state continues its shelter-at-home order, some business owners and workers took the streets of Santa Maria to protest against prolonging the reopening of the economy.

“We still need to protect the weak and the elderly, but the rest of us need to get back to work,” said Andy Caldwell, who is challenging Rep. Salud Carbajal for the 24th District seat in Congress.

Others say community members are becoming more impatient and are not willing to stay indoors much longer.

“People are ready for the communities to reopen and we want to make sure we do it and we do it in the right way,” said Jaime Flores who is part of the Santa Barbara County reopening committee.

Flores said some of the biggest concerns have to do with consequences from the current order.

“To have tourism revenues not come through, not being able to have the tax revenues come through for first responders down the road – yes, the numbers are important, but we have to be able to look at the economical impacts of this as well,” said Flores.

Caldwell said that a viable option is for businesses to re-open immediately while complying with social distancing.

“Social distancing can work for people at work. We’ve got Home Depot and Costco and Walmart open, other businesses can practice the same safety measures,” added Caldwell.

Some who are against the immediate reopening took to Facebook with comments like: "They aren’t taking your rights away; they are trying to save your life” or "It's not about them. It's about the risk to others that think they have the right to."

Rep. Carbajal sent the following statement to KSBY regarding today's protest:

“I understand both the fear and frustration of our community during these challenging times, but we must adhere to sound science and the guidance of our healthcare professionals as we gradually and safely re-open. This is not a time for political gamesmanship. The health and safety of our residents is paramount, and should be our priority as we move forward based on clear metrics and public health data.”