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Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 5/6/20, PM


Bid To Block Stimulus Package For Immigrants Denied /Yuba City Mall Defies Stay At Home Order / Uber Joins Lyft, AirBnB In Significant Job Cuts

Bid To Block Stimulus Package For Immigrants Denied

Today, the California Supreme Court denied a bid to block the state's first-in-the-nation plan to give money to immigrants living in the country illegally who are hurt by the coronavirus.

It was the second time in two days that judges refused to stop Governor Gavin Newsom's $75 million plan to aid about 150,000 unemployed adults who were left out of the stimulus package approved by Congress because of their immigration status.

The program offers each adult $500. The money would be distributed through nonprofit groups in an effort to protect recipients from providing personal information that might cost them other benefits or increase their danger of being deported.

The state's high court in a one-sentence order rejected the petition filed by the Center for American Liberty. That group contended the program violates the state Constitution’s ban on giving gifts to organizations outside of the state’s exclusive control.

Uber Joins Lyft, AirBnB In Significant Job Cuts

Ride-hailing company Uber is announcing a significant reduction in its workforce today. Uber will be laying off 3,700 employees, and the company’s CEO will forgo receiving his base salary for the remainder of the year. The layoffs account for about 14 percent of Uber’s workforce, apart from its drivers.

According to CNBC, the move was first announced in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 2. The layoffs are the company’s latest attempt at dealing with a massive dropoff in ridership due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And Uber is not alone. Last month the company’s chief competitor, Lyft, laid off nearly 1,000 employees. That’s about 17 percent of its non-driving workforce. And just yesterday AirBnB announced that it will be laying off a full 25 percent of its employees.

Uber’s announcement comes one day after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit alleging that both Uber and Lyft are not complying with AB5. That’s the law that went into effect this year re-classifying many gig workers as employees instead of independent contractors. Uber has pledged to challenge Becerra’s action in court.

Uber is scheduled to report its earnings for the first quarter of 2020 tomorrow. The company’s CEO has said that employees can expect a further and final update on cost restructuring in the next two weeks.

Yuba City Mall Defies Stay At Home Order

Several dozen shoppers streamed into the first California mall to reopen yesterday, despite Governor Gavin Newsom's orders restricting businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Doors opened just before 11 a.m. at the Yuba Sutter Mall in Yuba City. That’s the county seat of rural Sutter County, which defied Newsom's order along with adjacent Yuba County. The mall has a fitness center and about 50 stores but as many as half may not immediately reopen. Physical distancing will be encouraged, business hours will be shortened to allow for more cleaning, and customers will be able to pick up purchases at curbside.

Newsom has called the decision by the two counties "a big mistake." He says it could slow the state’s recovery from the coronavirus.

The counties are just north of Sacramento, and they have a combined population of about 175,000. They’re the largest to rebel against Newsom. Restaurants, hair salons, and many other businesses barred under the state order reopened there Monday.

Newsom urged county officials on Tuesday to line up with the state’s orders, but he stopped short of threatening a crackdown. He said the state is willing to work with them "to accommodate their local needs" but only if proper procedures are followed.

A Sutter County Supervisor said he was "irritated" by the governor’s comments. He said they were following the directive of their shared public health officer.

Only one other of California's 58 counties has defied Newsom's stay-at-home order: Modoc, in the far northeast of the state. It hasn’t had a single confirmed COVID-19 case among some 8,800 residents.

The Rural County Representatives of California, an association of 35 counties, has urged members not to permit malls, gyms, and salons to reopen until the state restrictions ease.

Based on improving data on hospitalizations due to the virus, Newsom planned to make his first significant changes to the stay-at-home order today and allow businesses like bookstores, florists and sporting goods stores to reopen, with curbside pickup. The new order wouldn’t apply to hair salons or malls or allow diners inside restaurants, which under a multi-phased reopening plan could have to wait another month or more.

San Francisco Bay Area counties have said they plan to keep local orders that are stricter than what Newsom is expected to unveil.