The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Wednesday a plan to give out $20 million worth of grants to businesses reeling from purple tier restrictions.
The proposal, co-authored by supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher, allocates $20 million from the county's general fund to businesses like restaurants and gyms that have been handcuffed by bans on indoor services.
The $20 million will be split evenly among the county's five districts, leaving each district $4 million to divide between businesses in their area. It is unclear how much each business could receive or how many businesses will receive funds.
Ahead of the meeting, Supervisor Fletcher told NBC 7 the grants could be the lifelines that keep businesses from closing their doors for good. Businesses can use the funds to pay rent and mortgages, purchase equipment needed to comply with COVID regulations and pay employees.
"The aim is to just bridge them through until we get another federal stimulus package which will probably be in January," Fletcher said.
Restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos/aquariums and businesses in the event industry with fewer than 100 employees can apply for the Small Business Stimulus Grant, which will not need to be repaid. The county will try to focus its attention to helping businesses that don't have the resources to facilitate expanding outdoors.
The grants probably won't be enough to solve all their problems, admitted Fletcher, but he hopes it can hold them over through the holidays.
Supervisor Jim Desmond, who has long called for going against state restrictions to allow for the reopening of businesses, agreed that the proposal is a short-term solution.
"While I think it’s good, to allocate more emergency funds to businesses that are struggling, I’m worried this is putting a band-aid over a much bigger wound. A wound inflicted by state government," Desmond said in a statement to NBC 7. "Businesses affected aren’t looking for handouts, they aren’t looking for anything free, they just want their livelihoods back, and to get back to work. All they are asking for is the opportunity to operate safely.”
Fletcher said the grants would be turned around quickly, with an emphasis on business that "may not have the space or the geography to open their business outdoors."
Fletcher and Cox issued the following joint statement Tuesday.
“Due to the massive spike in COVID-19 cases and very concerning increases in hospitalizations we have to take action to slow the spread in San Diego County. Through no fault of their own, COVID-19 highest risk entities have to stop indoor operations. While we know this step is vital to help slow the spread in our community, we want to step up and help those impacted. Our goal for the $20 million is to provide relief to restaurants, gyms and other entities that have been directly impacted by the indoor closures due to our county’s Purple Tier status. We want to provide this critical relief to them as our community works to slow the spread and stop the surge of COVID-19 cases.”