City leaders respond to critics of COVID-19 restrictions as small business owners look for relief

HOUSTON – Tuesday’s announcement of a stay-home-work-safe order for Houston and Harris County has led to many questions for our local leaders.

What are people asking?

One question, in particular, that was raised: What kind, if any, economic relief can city leaders provide to small business owners who are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic?

Eric Erician owns Houston PediCabs, headquartered in downtown Houston. Erician told city council members his business has taken a big financial hit since the rodeo was shut down, along with bars and clubs closing. All eight of his pedicabs are sitting at his shop and he still has to pay rent.

"I have an emergency relief fund set aside but that will only last for so long, "Erician said.

He asked city leaders if they’d consider delaying the permit registration process at the end of April and waive the fees that go along with it.

"It cost $365 to register each pedicab. That’s a lot for me right now, " he said.

Reverse the restrictions

Navigating this new normal during the coronavirus pandemic, for so many people, continues to present challenges and hurdles.

Leo Womack, of Houston, told city leaders he believes the new restrictions in place have gone too far.

“The real threat isn’t the virus itself, but how we respond and react to it,” Womack said.

He added fear is paralyzing our way of life and called on elected officials to reverse the restrictions now in place.

“If we allow this to shut down our society, we will lose the prosperity and the freedom this country has enjoyed for almost 250 years,” Womack said.

City leaders responded to his concerns.

“I don’t think that we really know, good or bad, what this virus really is and that’s what’s causing all the problems,” Councilman Greg Travis said. “People are looking for us to protect them with the best knowledge that we are getting. At the end of the day, it’s going to be us that’s accountable. We will be told at the end of the day whether we did a good job or a bad job but you can certainly believe that all of the blame will be placed right here in this horseshoe,” said Council member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.

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