SF business owners protest for immediate relief, coronavirus reopening plan

About 150 San Francisco small business owners, flanked by their potential clients, called for immediate financial relief and specific reopening plans outside of San Francisco city hall on Tuesday morning.

Masked and separated, the leaders of the industries have not been able to reopen since mid-March, the shelter in place detailed the financial difficulties that have caused some companies to collapse completely amid the pandemic coronavirus.

“None of us want to be in the middle of a pandemic,” said Dave Karraker, co-owner of MX3 Fitness, whose two gyms have had to lay off 10 people and rack up more than $ 20,000 in debt since March. “None of us wanted to be here in this air quality. None of us wanted to have to call Grandma and ask her to babysit for a few hours, because I have to go to town hall and begging them to save my business. Incredibly, they’re not watching one business go bankrupt. They are watching entire lines of business collapse.

According to Yelp, more than 2,000 Bay Area businesses were marked as permanently closed between March and July 10. Lending Tree found in a study this month that small businesses in San Francisco have the bleakest prospects among any major American city – surpassing only Austin, San Antonio, San Jose and New York.

Many of those who closed were small businesses.

Business leaders demonstrate in the plaza in front of City Hall on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 in San Francisco, California. take immediate action.Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle

Commercial real estate agent Stu Gerry has represented 116 San Francisco small business owners in owner negotiations since mid-March. He said 7% closed permanently in July, that the number rose to 33% this month and that he expects it to reach 90% soon.

Business owners carried signs that included “If the masks work, let us work” to “Open now or shut down for good” to “Feeding my child is essential business”.

The group included owners of fitness, personal care and nightlife businesses, who are prohibited from opening operations indoors as San Francisco remains on the state’s watch list. The timing of the reopening is unclear, but Gov. Gavin Newsom said he plans to issue guidelines this week.

The protest drew City Hall supervisors Matt Haney and Rafael Mandelman outside to address the crowd.

“Just because we’ve been put on the watch list doesn’t mean we need to stop working on the problem,” Mandelman said. “Let’s let people know when, if and how we’re going to reopen, and if the answer will be ‘no’ for a number of people, let them know. Then people can make reasonable choices and move on.

The mayor of London Breed initially suspended the plan to reopen the city at the end of June, citing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. The reopening break became “indefinite” on July 17 when San Francisco was added to the state’s watch list.

More than a month after the hiatus, business owners have expressed frustration and pleaded for more help. The city has loan and grant programs for companies affected by the coronavirus, but applications are closed for many programs.

Billy Polson and the 86 independent fitness trainers who work at his gym, Diakadi, have limited themselves to online and outdoor sessions.

“We’re exhausted,” he said. “We have to get help, if we have a chance to survive.”

Local barber shop owner Gabe Sandejas said his business relied mainly on donations he received at his father’s funeral in March.

“I realized that I am seen as a number, a number of the unfortunate group that has been badly hit and a number of the group that is still getting fired while we are already on the pitch”, a- he declared.

Craig Joyner, owner of Great Tan for 28 years, said his payroll protection program money ran out in mid-July. He has nothing more to pay to the owners of his Union or Castro lounges, and he has said his employees are talking about leaving town.

” It’s like… ,

Rusty Simmons is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron


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Christopher Easley

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