Sen. Melendez Introduces Measures to Protect Small Businesses from Malicious COVID-19 Fines

RIVERSIDE – Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, introduced two measures today, Monday, Jan.4, aiming to protect small businesses from malicious COVID-19 fines.

“Business owners are draining their finances to comply with COVID regulations, and the Governor has continued to change the rules with no data to support his mandates,” said Melendez. “Now small businesses are facing fines and penalties as they try to stay afloat and keep their lifelong dreams alive.”

The first measure, Senate Bill 102 (SB 102), prohibits regulatory boards and agencies within the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, from revoking licenses or penalizing small businesses owners for failure to comply with any COVID-19 emergency orders. The second measure is a reintroduction, Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 (SCR 5), that ends the State of Emergency, restores checks and balances between the Legislative and Executive branches and allows local governments to handle the pandemic locally instead of top-down mandates from the state.

“When it comes to having our licenses revoked, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.” Chef Andrew Gruel said. “This is an overreach of authority that only creates more fear and loss in an industry that has been ravaged by the shutdowns. Each community should have the right to make its own local decisions.”

Restaurant owner and founder of Slapfish, Andrew Gruel, has chosen to defy these latest shutdown orders because the Governor has not provided data to support the closing of outdoor dining areas. The National Restaurant association predicted 43% of California restaurants would not survive the crisis.

“Californians are tired of being told they can’t go to work and businesses owners are tired of being told to close their businesses for reasons not based on science,” said Melendez. “The Governor continues to ignore the data illustrating the thousands of businesses closing their doors, the tens of thousands of Californians who are fleeing this state, and the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Californians still seeking assistance. Enough is enough; this unilateral control needs to come to an end!”