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Today I saw local heroes in action.
Several local business owners, notably Magan Kunin of Kunin Wines and Sherry Villanueva of Acme Hospitality, spoke movingly at the Santa Barbara City Council about their decisions to close their businesses in order to best protect their employees and the public from the risk of COVID-19 transmission. It was particularly powerful to watch Ms. Villanueva tear up while talking about having to fire 350 employees and still provide them with health insurance.
These business owners are in agony over their financial futures and the well-being of employees whose lives are being upended by a pandemic that is bigger than our ability to manage without a lot of economic pain.
Then the City Council took a critical step, calling for closure of bars, wineries, restaurants (except for delivery and take out), and other places where people congregate in close quarters. This is consistent with the federal government’s guidance for people not to congregate in groups of more than 10, and to maintain 6 feet of distance between individuals. Unfortunately, we can’t have both “business as usual” and responsible action in the face of a disease that is too easily transmitted.
It took courage for the council to make this choice, but they clearly understand what Councilmember Jordan articulated: We are all either contributors or mitigators. There isn’t much space inbetween. They took seriously their duty as protectors of public health and safety, in acting to flatten the curve of this pandemic as much as possible.
We are heading into very hard times. Anything any of us can do to help cushion the blow for those who will feel it most — let’s do it. That includes contributing to the Santa Barbara Foundation’s COVID19 Response Fund, to help individuals in our community who have been hard hit.