Small business owners in California are anxious as the state implements new coronavirus restrictions amid a rise of confirmed virus cases.
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a new regional stay-at-home order that divides California into five regions and triggers when a region's hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15%. As part of the order, many personal care businesses are forced to close, restaurants may only offer takeout and delivery, and retail stores can only operate at 20% capacity. Additionally, "nonessential" travel in the state will be "temporarily restricted."
California business owners worry that after months of restrictions and falling revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new round of restrictions might finally force many businesses to close or move out of state.
Nick Kershner, the owner of California-based Matchless IT — which provides IT services to other businesses — appeared on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning to weigh in on the new coronavirus restrictions. Kershner described a "trickle-down effect" from some businesses closing, causes service providers for those businesses to lose customers and revenue, potentially forcing them to close as well.
"It's been very, very difficult," Kershner said.
He questioned whether politicians enacting these restrictions cared about the devastating economic consequences for many Americans and their families.
"I don't necessarily know that they're looking out for us," Kershner said. "Actions speak louder than words ... do they even believe in their own edicts?"
"Frankly, I don't know if many businesses are going to be able to survive another intense lockdown like we're in right now," he added.
While businesses are being told to close and workers are forced to forgo their pay under strict coronavirus rules, some public officials whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers have been caught flagrantly violating the COVID rules they put in place for other people. High-profile elected Democrats like Gov. Newsom and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl are being accused of hypocrisy after urging people to comply with coronavirus restrictions and then neglecting to do so themselves.
Meanwhile, Reason reported that as of mid-November, the number of small businesses open in California has declined 31 percent from January when the pandemic began. Business advocates who spoke to Reason warned that the new set of restrictions may deliver a "deathblow" to businesses that are already struggling.
"This will be a devastating deathblow to already fragile, uncertain, and terrified small business owners," John Kabateck, the California director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said. He told Reason about a survey of NFIB members who report that if the economy doesn't improve by early 2021, as many as 20% of them will be forced to close permanently.
Kabateck said small businesses will be hit hardest by the restrictions.
"A 20 percent rule has a much different effect on small family business than that of a big-box corporate retailer," he explained. "Removing 80 percent of a small retailer's selling space is as good as shutting down the small retailer…We want to see the science saying that retail commerce is the cause of the COVID surge."
California's state government does intend to provide temporary tax relief and $500 million in stimulus aid to struggling small businesses.
"California's small businesses embody the best of the California Dream and we can't let this pandemic take that away," Newsom said in a statement. "By providing potentially billions in immediate relief and support, our small businesses can weather the next month."
Still, promises of government relief do little to instill confidence in a public that witnesses leaders flout the very rules they say are necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus.
"Someone like Sheila Kuehl who goes out and says outdoor dining is the most dangerous thing you can do, votes to shut down outdoor dining, and then immediately goes out to dinner afterwards. None of it makes any sense," Kershner told Fox News.
"Not only does does this not makes sense, but I'm not getting paid at the same time. I can't go to work. I can't go out. I can't visit friends," he continued. "The virus isn't regional, but the pick-and-choose policies that these politicians put in place is regional."