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PD Editorial: Give restaurants a break on fees

Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to lift all pandemic-related business restrictions by June 15 barring an unforeseen surge in COVID-19 infections. It will be a welcome relief for tens of thousands of restaurants and bars that have been closed or forced to operate far below capacity because of the public health threat. They lost an incalculable amount of business, and many of them will never reopen. Despite their struggles, they were dunned for the full cost of annual permits and fees.

In an editorial in October, we suggested that one way for the state and California counties to help these small businesses get through the pandemic — and position the to state bounce back — would be to refund at least a portion of those fees. There were no refunds, and lawsuits have been filed in at least 11 counties against the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the counties. Cousteaux French Bakery, a Sonoma County brand, is among the plaintiffs. California restaurants employed about 1.5 million people before the pandemic, and preserving as many of those jobs as possible will have ripple effects across local economies. Costly lawsuit aren’t going to help anyone. With its huge budget surplus, the state can afford to be generous. Give restaurants a break.

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Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

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