Wilk announces a bipartisan coalition of Senators have urged governor to reclassify California's restaurants as essential businesses

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, sent a letter signed by senators of both parties to Governor Gavin Newsom last Friday evening asking him to “reclassify restaurants as essential businesses, and adopt the industry’s protocols that would allow restaurants to operate safely.”

“The governor’s recurring shut downs have made it incredibly difficult for all businesses in California but restaurants have been particularly hard hit. Many have spent tens of thousands of dollars to comply with the governor’s ‘outdoor dining’ regulations only to have him pull the rug out from under them again,” said Wilk. “Community restaurants have played a vital role in providing meals during the pandemic and should be treated as the essential businesses they are in our neighborhoods.”

The text of the letter is below. Click here to view the signed letter.

December 11, 2020

The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Newsom:

We write today out of great concern for the future of California’s restaurant industry.  The COVID-19 guidelines implemented by your Administration have had a devastating impact on the restaurants that provide critical jobs and revenue to our communities.  Many restaurants have gone out of business, and now, with the approach of winter and new guidelines that restrict indoor dining, many others will be forced to consider a similar choice.

We ask that you immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities.  As is becoming obvious to Californians, these essential businesses do more than simply provide a place to eat.  Restaurants are active participants in local neighborhoods, providing meals to senior citizens and working with food banks to feed families struggling to put food on their tables.

The California Restaurant Association reports that 60% of California restaurants are owned by people of color, and 50% of California restaurants are owned or partly-owned by women.  In 2019, more than 1.8 million jobs were attributed to the restaurant and food service industry in California.  This equates to approximately eleven percent of employment in the state.  Closed restaurants means jobs lost, missed rent, mortgage and car payments and a lot of unemployment checks.

California’s restaurants have taken significant steps to ensure the safety of their employees and customers during this pandemic. The industry has proposed guidelines that would allow restaurants to continue to operate safely and at capacity levels that will allow restaurants to stay afloat, while at the same time implementing safety protocols that address the unique challenges inherent with indoor restaurant operations.

We urge you in the strongest terms to reclassify restaurants as essential businesses, and adopt the industry’s protocols that would allow restaurants to operate safely. The future of thousands of restaurants, their employees and the unique character of our local communities are dependent on the survival of this industry.  Thank you for your urgent consideration of this request.


Patricia C. Bates
Shannon Grove
Andreas Borgeas
Brian Dahle
Melissa Hurtado
Brian Jones
Monique Limón
Melissa Melendez
Jim Nielsen
Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh
Scott Wilk