Dear Editor,

I feel compelled to make a statement regarding local businesses and the state restrictions. I have heard local officials make reference to Kennedy Club Fitness and portray KCF as a defiant problematic business. That is not a fair portrayal, many businesses in this county have been backed into a corner with the state restrictions that are ongoing now for nine months. 

Some are choosing to close up, not knowing if it will be for three weeks or three months. When will they be allowed to reopen if that is even an option for them, and under what restrictions will that be? No one knows.

Some businesses have been able to fly under the radar and avoid public complaints. Some have taken the road of remaining open in some limited capacity to try to survive for their customers and employees, both who are like family to many businesses.

We may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat. I have talked to dozens of businesses and we have all been through nine months of shutdowns, reopening, inside, outside, tiers, color charts and questioned science-relevance passed down from Gov. Newsom. Not one business that I have talked to wants to go against anything asked of us, the opposite actually. The reality is many are being pushed too far for too long, there has been no working together with the government restrictions and businesses to find a happy medium that all parties can live with to survive this situation. 

Businesses have been left to figure it out on our own. We have had people in the community, yell at us, call us names, belittle us, everything plus the kitchen sink has been thrown at us. The driving force for us at KCF to remain open even through all the difficulty and stress is the well-being of our members and our employees. Our employees are family to us, we have so many members who support us, feel safe in our clubs, and have thanked us for being here for them in these most difficult times. 

We are not continuing to fight to stay open to prove a point or to be defiant, we are fighting for the members who tells us that they are suffering depression and need us, we are fighting for the member who told me that she is off eight medications now because she has improved her health through KCF. We are fighting for our members who are elderly and need us for the mental and physical health. We are fighting for our members who beg us not to close again. We are fighting to keep jobs for our employees. 

I wish people would quit demonizing business that fighting to stay open, if you’re fearful of contracting the virus, then please do what makes you feel safer but please do not expect every person to harbor the same fear you have or share your circumstances.  I ask everyone to be respectful of each other, we all have battles we are fighting. 

Every business is doing the best they can with the situation they have been put in by the government. Business is not a public health threat; the real threat is the collateral damage being done by ever-changing restrictions. 

Businesses need your support. If you are unable to support a particular business or do not feel comfortable doing business with them, that is OK too. But please do not try to force your same concerns on everyone.  The San Luis Obispo County small business coalition has recently been established and is growing members daily, our goal is to form a united group of business that are doing what they can to stay open with precautions, and to provide a voice to work with local government for the betterment of our communities short and long term.

Keith Swank, Paso Robles