Oakland City leaders stepping up to help small businesses during COVID-19 crisis

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay, officials are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic and taking steps to help small businesses that are getting clobbered by the crisis.

"COVID-19 is impacting all of our lives," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf says the coronavirus crisis hitting small businesses hard, many restaurants have been forced to close temporarily because customers have stopped coming, some downtown streets are empty.

Manuel Torres is struggling to keep his longtime restaurant on Webster street open workers have been constantly sanitizing all surfaces inside.

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"It's very very slow, down 50 percent, very slow," said Torres.

At a news conference where microphones were disinfected and speakers practiced social distancing from each other, officials offered support to small businesses during the crisis. The Oakland Business Assistance Center is an online resource tool with information on zero interest loans to help with tax bills.

"Our staff is ready to work with you to help with payment plans and waiving penalties," said Oakland City Council Member Nikki Fortunato Bas.

Mayor Schaaf says customers can still support Oakland businesses without leaving the house.

"Instead of cooking, order delivery or go online and buy things from stores, buy a gift certificate for a time when we feel like going back to restaurants and shops," Schaaf said.

East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee wants to make sure pending federal coronavirus legislation will make things like hand sanitizer, now in high demand- available in stores.

"Hopefully this legislation helps manufacturers understand they've got a step up provide what people need," said Lee.

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