The city of Atwater, California unanimously passed a resolution on Friday to declare itself a “sanctuary city” in which businesses and churches will be allowed to reopen in defiance of Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide lockdown orders and stringent reopening criteria.
— Vanessa Vasconcelos (@VanessaABC30) May 15, 2020
A photo shared to Twitter shows the following summary of the resolution:
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ATWATER AFFIRMING THE CITY’S COMMITMENT TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF LIFE, LIBERTY, AND PROPERTY, AND DECLARING THE CITY OF ATWATER A SANCTUARY CITY FOR ALL BUSINESSES.
Now, businesses and houses of worship in the city of 30,000 are free to resume operations if they wish.
According to ABC7, however, the resolution comes with a significant, though obvious drawback: the protections are only at the city level. This means that businesses regulated by the state (such as bars or nail and hair salons) could lose their licenses for opening.
“We’re not looking to jeopardize anyone’s business,” Mayor Paul Creighton said, noting that many businesses may choose to wait for state approval to reopen. “That’s a license you hold with the state of California. So, we don’t want to cause any harm there, use your best judgment.”
Victory Baptist church pastor Richard Miller told ABC7 his church will now start outdoor services after weeks of conducting them online.
“It’s actually helped us to be more educated on how to keep things clean and reach out to people who can’t make it out to church,” Miller said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that the state was headed into the second stage of opening, allowing for low-risk, “non-essential” businesses to resume operations.
Although Newsom’s reopening plan allows counties running ahead of California’s curve to advance beyond Phase 2 if they meet certain counties, Merced County, in which Atwater is located, is not among the counties given the greenlight.
That isn’t stopping Atwater.
“This is America. You have the choice,” Mayor Creighton declared. “It’s time for the government to stop dictating another month, another three months, six months. When is it going to end? When everyone is bankrupt?”
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