Restaurants across California are serving diners outside, defying Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) coronavirus lockdown order to limit restaurants to takeout and delivery, which took effect Dec. 6.
El Paseo, the shopping district of Palm Desert, California, includes a number of restaurants pushing back but, according to the Desert Sun, none of the owners or patrons were willing to speak to reporters about Newsom’s order or their defiance of it.
The governor has threatened to withhold state funding from counties that don’t comply with his coronavirus orders.
The Desert Sun reported restaurants were busy on a recent evening, serving diners outside at socially distanced tables. The outlet further noted local law enforcement’s unwillingness to pursue compliance with the order on Newsom’s behalf. The Desert Sun reported:
The city of Palm Desert contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for police services, and two sheriff’s department patrol cars were seen parked a few blocks to the north of the open El Paseo eateries on Friday. However, Sheriff Chad Bianco has been adamant in his refusal to enforce the state’s new restrictions.
Bianco posted a video on social media blasting Newsom’s latest lockdown.
— Chad Bianco (@SheriffBianco) December 6, 2020
“The dictatorial attitude toward California residents while dining in luxury, traveling, keeping his business open, and sending his kids to in-person private schools is very telling about his attitude toward California residents, his feelings about the virus, and it is extremely hypocritical,” Bianco said.
“He is expecting us to arrest anyone violating these orders, cite them and take their money, close their businesses, make them stay in their home, and take away their civil liberties or he will punish all of us,” Bianco said. “I believe that all jobs are essential to someone.”
“Leaders do not threaten, attempt to intimidate, or cause fear,” the sheriff went on. “Bullies do.”
Bianco said he believed people in Riverside County will “act responsibly” and do their best to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing, but state authorities are out of line targeting people and their businesses.
“While the governor’s and the state has threatened actions against violators, the Riverside County Sheriff Department will not be blackmailed, bullied, or be used as muscle against Riverside County residents in the enforcement of the governor’s orders,” Bianco said.
The Desert Sun detailed how authorities are targeting restaurants and other businesses that are not complying with Newsom’s numerous orders over the course of the pandemic:
In late August, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control assigned about 150 sworn officers to inspect these businesses as part of state “strike teams.” ABC public information officer John Carr said in August that after they are contacted businesses have typically complied with the restrictions.
The Department of Environmental Health is in charge of enforcing restrictions against tattoo parlors and day spas, while other businesses have been contacted by the Office of County Counsel.
The outlet reported that some restaurants — mostly franchises of large restaurant chains — were sticking to takeout and delivery.
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