MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) – Officials in Manhattan Beach are urging state and Los Angeles County leaders for permission to fully reopen small retailers in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

FILE — An open pizzeria let’s clients come in one by one to place their order during the novel coronavirus pandemic on April 28, 2020, in Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Getty Images)

The Manhattan City Council Wednesday fired off letters to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday demanding that small retailers be allowed to reopen for more than just curbside pickup and under the same protocols as larger businesses, such as grocery stores and certain big box stores, which have been deemed essential since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Small business owners “are faced with excruciating choices as they experience huge losses in income, unpaid bills, crushing debt and increasing hopelessness with each day that their businesses are not allowed to fully reopen,” Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery wrote.

The letter goes on to argue that these businesses could lose customers to large retail chains if shopping habits change because of COVID-19.

“Locally, we have a Target and Costco that are fully open to customers because they were deemed ‘essential.’ We note that shopping habits are shifting to the big box stores and our small retailers must be allowed to compete or lose their customers forever. Or worse, close forever.”

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L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn appeared to support Manhattan Beach’s position. On Wednesday, she also penned a letter to Newsom requesting that small retailers in L.A. County be allowed to reopen under the same requirements – physical distancing, limited capacity and face-coverings – that larger ones are following.

“If these measures are working to keep essential retail businesses open and safe like Target Home Depot, and Costco, they can certainly be applied to all retailers,” she wrote to the governor.

Small business owners in Manhattan Beach are praising the city leaders for pushing to allow them to open again.

On a typical Friday night, Ercole’s bar would be packed. Due to coronavirus shutdown orders, the doors are closed. Ercole’s has been operating in L.A. County since 1927, and bar manager Gary Barnes said the bar needs to get its doors back open if it hopes to stay.

“We’ve been here forever, and we would hate it if we had to shut down,” he said. “We’re such a part of the community. We’re not a big bar or a big corporate chain.”

While some businesses are fulfilling curbside delivery orders, many remained closed on Friday. Brian Bullock, a Manhattan Beach resident of 32 years said enough is enough.

“We’ve ruined too many people’s lives already,” he said.”A hurt economy…you know what that means? That means people are hurt.”

Ventura County Wednesday received permission from the state for an accelerated reopening that immediately allowed restaurants to reopen for modified dine-in service and some retail for in-store shopping.

This is partly due to the fact Ventura County has only reported 883 total coronavirus cases and 29 deaths through Thursday, while L.A. County has reported 42,037 cases and 2,016 deaths.

However, Manhattan Beach itself has only reported 74 cases. Its one of several L.A. County cities petitioning for an accelerated reopening based on its low case rate.

California is currently in phase two of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-phase reopening plan. Nearly all retailers and restaurants have been allowed to reopen for curbside pickup. In L.A. pet grooming businesses and car washes were also allowed to reopen this week. Beaches, golf courses and trails have reopened.

Hair and nail salons, however, remain closed, and have petitioned officials to allow them to reopen. They fall under stage three of Newsom’s plan, which also includes gyms, movie theaters and sporting venues without fans.


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