By Rita Beamish
The rural Central Valley city of Atwater has declared itself a “sanctuary city” for businesses and churches that want to reopen in defiance of the California shelter-in-place policy aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The City Council heard from a parade of business owners, pastors and residents on Friday who described pandemic-related hardships. Many insisted they could be responsible and keep the Merced County community safe by following safe practices like wearing face masks and keeping social distance.
A tearful Donald Covington, president of the Old Town Atwater Association, said businesses need to get up and running. “People are starving. Two family members have two small businesses, with small children and no income,” he added. “We need to do this today.”
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