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Hurt by Lockdowns, California’s Small Businesses Push to Recall Governor


Small businesses across the country have suffered from shutdowns that sometimes seem to flare up as suddenly as surges in the coronavirus itself. Restaurants, gyms, corner stores and spas have closed, some after trying to hang in there for months.

The pain in California has been acute. Nearly 40,000 small businesses had closed in the state by September — more than in any other state since the pandemic began, according to a report compiled by Yelp. Half had shut permanently, according to the report, far more than the 6,400 that had closed permanently in New York.

Few of the pandemic choices that Mr. Newsom has faced have been easy. California has suffered enormously from Covid-19, with more than 3.5 million cases and 47,000 deaths. Los Angeles County, one of the hardest-hit places in the recent virus surge, has more than 1.2 million cases and 19,000 deaths.

Dan Newman, a political strategist for Mr. Newsom, said the governor was focused on coronavirus vaccinations and reopening the state. Mr. Newman blamed “state and national G.O.P. partisans” for supporting “this Republican recall scheme in hopes of creating an expensive, distracting and destructive circus.”

Acknowledging that the pandemic has “heavily impacted our small businesses,” the director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Dee Dee Myers, pointed to several state programs that offer them help. They include the California Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Program, the California Rebuilding Fund and the Main Street Hiring Tax Credit.

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that Mr. Newsom had “proven that he is woefully unqualified to lead the state of California.”

In places such as Los Angeles County, where Mr. Newsom won 72 percent of the vote in 2018, and neighboring Orange County, a more conservative area, the small-business anger is particularly intense. One local business owner leading the movement to open California’s economy is Andrew Gruel, 40, a chef who owns Slapfish, a seafood restaurant chain.



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