Morro Bay City Council on Monday handed out COVID-19 business assistance grants approved in October and is taking applications now for another smaller round of grants that will be awarded in early January.

City Manager Scott Collins told Estero Bay News that the October grants, totaling $80,000, were awarded Dec. 14. “These funds,” Collins said, “will support 20 Morro Bay businesses and their over 100 combined employees.”

The business grant program is aimed at helping local businesses that sustained great economic hardship because of the Governor’s Coronavirus Pandemic response and the shutdown of much of Morro Bay’s service economy businesses.

Mike’s Barber Shop owner, Jon Elliott, was grateful for the help. “COVID-19 has hurt many businesses in our area,” he said, “including ours. So we really appreciate the much-needed support from the City. These funds will help us weather this latest surge.”

The Governor’s latest round of edicts re-established his stay-at-home orders from last spring, ordering all residents not to leave their homes unless it’s for an essential reason, like to shop for groceries, or a doctor’s appointment.

The edict also ended restaurants being able to serve a restricted number of customers indoors, although out-door dining, takeout and home and drive-up delivery are still allowed. Motels are also restricted to only renting rooms for essential workers.

“The timing of the additional grant funds is critical,” Collins said, “as the Governor extended further restrictions last week. The new restrictions impact gyms, restaurants, hair salons, barbershops, lodging and others.”

The Council on Dec. 8 approved another $50,000 in business grants, taken from a special funding source set up by a law that seeks to ease the tax losses for government agencies when Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant ceases operations in 2025.

“The City is funding the entire grant program with California Senate Bill 1090 funds,” Collins said, “which are for the express purpose of supporting economic development.”

Applications are being taken now for the new grant monies and closes at the end of December. The City intends to award this second round of grants in early January 2021,” Collins said.

There is of course a catch. “The grants are available to active Morro Bay businesses with 25 employees or fewer,” Collins said, “and must be in good standing with the City and COVID-19 requirements.”

Interested businesses can get information online at: www.morrobayca.gov or email to: citymanager@morrobayca.gov.