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Lathrop seeks to ease outdoor dining rules for various restaurants
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The Lathrop City Council remains dedicated to doing everything it can to make sure small businesses survive the pandemic.

And after last week’s shutdown order for in-person dining, that meant giving City Manager Steve Salvatore the freedom to find a way to allow restaurants in the city to pursue outdoor dining as a way of keeping their doors open and avoiding the switch to takeout only for the second time this year.

The directive came from the council during a public meeting on Monday and reaffirmed the city’s ongoing efforts to make sure that the city’s business-friendly approach includes the small, independently-owned business that have been hit hardest in the age of COVID-19.

“We know that the businesses are hurting – especially the small business – and that’s why we created the financial grant program,” Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said. “On Monday we gave the city manager instructions to find a way where restaurants can still provide their services for outdoor dining as long as it can be done safely.

“If there’s a way for him and the city to ensure that people can do that safely, then we think it’s important that he goes ahead and puts that into place.”

Restaurants have been among the hardest-hit businesses since COVID-19 ushered in shelter-in-place orders and closed indoor dining rooms across the sprawling state.

Once the phased reopening plan into effect and restaurants were again able to seat customers, the city instituted a game for residents where they can visit as many of the participating merchants as possible to get stamps and then submit those stamps to the city for a drawing for gift certificates and other items from the restaurants that choose to be a part of the program.

Because of such high participation numbers and a favorable response from participating businesses, the city was considering running a second game when the state chose to hit the “dimmer switch” and shut portions of the economy down rather than the blanket approach that was taken in March – once again closing indoor dining.

Dhaliwal, who is seeking a 5th term as Lathrop’s mayor, said that he’s proud of the city’s staff for the work that they have done supporting small businesses during the pandemic and that the city will do everything it can to help ensure that they outlast the widespread impact of the virus.

“It’s extremely important to this council to help our small businesses as much as we can as long as we stay in the confines of the law,” Dhaliwal said. “I’m very proud of our staff – they’re doing everything they can under these extremely hard conditions and as mayor I really appreciate the efforts that they’re making to help the residents of this city.”

The city also dedicated $500,000 to help small businesses who are struggling to pay their bills – allowing those that could benefit from the funding to submit applications to the city for consideration of a grant for up to $5,000 to help offset the cost of rent, payroll, inventory, utilities, and equipment.

Applications for that grant program can be found by visiting the city’s website at Applications will be accepted until the city exhausts the program’s resources.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.