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As Covid crisis grows, many California businesses flout the rules

As Covid crisis grows, many California businesses flout the rules

SAN DIEGO — Up and down the coastal boulevards of San Diego County, restaurants are buzzing with commerce as customers in sunglasses enjoy cocktails a

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SAN DIEGO — Up and down the coastal boulevards of San Diego County, restaurants are buzzing with commerce as customers in sunglasses enjoy cocktails and bar food al fresco.

Sandwich boards placed on sidewalks advertise the services of massage parlors that had been closed for months. Some Southern California gyms are allowing muscle-building indoors. And tribal casinos welcome gamers.

As the pandemic reaches new heights in California, many residents, tourists and business owners are doing the opposite of what’s needed to slow the spread of coronavirus, experts say. They’re defying stay-at-home rules, recently extended until hospitalizations subside, that ban dining, and nonessential retailers and services.

“I have to support my family,” said Brian Gruber, who owns Notorious Burgers, a Carlsbad eatery open for outdoor dining. “I feel like these small businesses staying open are in the same boat.”

Jan. 1, 202102:16

Carlsbad, a coastal community in northern San Diego County, has been a hotspot for disobedience despite the threat of fines. In the San Diego neighborhood of Miramar, a stage collapsed at an illegal New Year’s Eve warehouse party, authorities said, injuring three people.

Two beach neighborhoods in San Diego, Pacific Beach and La Jolla, have been rife with diners. Temecula, a city in neighboring Riverside County, has become notorious for flaunting the rules, and in Orange County, a bar owner was charged Thursday with “illegally operating,” according to the district attorney’s office.

Orange County prosecutors also claim that Luisza Giulietta Mauro, manager of Westend Bar in Costa Mesa, tried to prevent a police officer from going inside on Dec. 12.

“It is unacceptable for a business to repeatedly flaunt the regulations and continue to operate without even attempting to institute any mitigating measures that are designed to save lives,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, in a statement.

The governor’s office and the state health department could not be reached Friday to comment on the alleged lawbreakers and enforcement efforts, although it’s up to individual cities and county’s to enforce the state orders.

But for business owners like Notorious Burgers’ Gruber, the financial fallout of the pandemic is real. The California Restaurant Association said in August that thousands of restaurants had closed permanently, and 900,000 to 1 million restaurant workers had been laid off or furloughed since March.

Authorities in the Los Angeles area contended with a New Year’s Eve concert and service organized by Christian activist Sean Feucht, who earlier in the day conducted homeless outreach at a city park. He also organized a meal distribution event on Skid Row. Many of his followers eschewed mask-wearing.

Closed-off outdoor dining areas at Citadel Outlets as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases surge in Commerce, California, on Dec. 27, 2020.Bing Guan / Reuters

San Diego County health officials reported a record daily number of virus-related deaths Thursday at 62, and at least four people were found to have a more-transmissible variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, first discovered in the United Kingdom.

Some hospitals in the region were running out of morgue space as county health officials used refrigerated trailers to store the overflow of bodies.

In Los Angeles County, where 207 coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday, many hospitals were overwhelmed, with some using makeshift intensive care units inside gift shops and pediatric wards.

The rule-flouting in San Diego inspired recently sworn Mayor Todd Gloria to order “stronger enforcement for those blatantly and egregiously defying local and state health orders,” he tweeted.

“Failure to comply with any of the provisions of these orders constitutes an imminent threat and menace to public health, and is a public nuisance and imperils the lives or property of inhabitants of the City,” the order states.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Nbcnews.com

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