PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin sent a letter Friday morning to Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking for people to be allowed to eat inside until the smoke clears from the nearly 400 fires burning in the state.

“Please immediately allow indoor restaurant dining, on a temporary basis, under the same distancing restrictions as are now in place for outdoor dining,” Martin said in the letter. “Restaurants tend to have good HVAC systems, with effective filters, and can provide a safer, more comfortable setting than many Californians now have available at home. By this one urgently needed action, you will be promoting individual health, helping businesses survive, and keeping Californians employed.”

Martin said the smoke and ash from 370 fires burning in the state combined with the COVID-19 state guidelines is “putting the health of millions of Californians at risk. Finding ways to work through this pandemic has been challenging enough; the added challenges from the fires are making it untenable for many.”

On July 13, amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state, Gov. Newsom announced statewide restrictions to halt all indoor dining and close bars again. Under the statewide order, all dine-in restaurants could only be open if they seat patrons outdoors or offer takeout. The governor did not indicate how long this would last.

Martin said that without help, he does not know how long the businesses can survive.

“Restaurants and tasting rooms, which just a few short months ago employed almost two million Californians, are already reeling from the pandemic,” Martin said. “Outdoor dining, the only reason many of our restaurants and tasting rooms are able to still hang on, is not healthy in the heat, smoke, and ash-filled haze. If they have no customers, many more California small businesses will fail, and many more Californians will be put out of work.”