California takes tough stand on business violators. Revoke licenses to operate

The Pandemic is not going away.  Nonetheless some business owners want to pretend they can go back to making money and try to believe their lives will be the same.

Their lives and the lives of their customers have changed for the forseeable future.

California authorities are taking the only reasonable action. Come down hard on people who are putting their fellow citizens at risk.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 5.6.2020

YUBA CITY, Sutter County — State regulators began threatening to shut down dozens of restaurants, pubs, barbershops and beauty salons in rural Sutter and Yuba counties this week, just one day after officials in the region defied California’s shelter-in-place order and gave the go-ahead for businesses to reopen.

Several areas of the state, including many Northern California counties, have become weary of restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus because of the economic fallout, with some spots allowing residents to start ignoring Gov. Gavin Newsom’s prescribed lockdown. But the 160,000-population Yuba City metro area, the largest place to defy the stay-at-home directive, is the only one that appears to have been hit with consequences.

“People are just trying to get back to work and communicate with each other again,” said Donnie Walker, whose family runs Walker’s Wine and Brew House in the town of Wheatland, south of Yuba City, where state regulators swept through Tuesday afternoon. “It’s sad that they’re doing this.”

Like many businesses in the region, Donnie Walker opened his tap room Monday to crowds eager to get out and about after six weeks of hunkering down. But on Tuesday afternoon, a state regulator stopped in and put an end to the welcome — yet brief — brush with normal life.

“They said, ‘If you continue to serve, we’ll take your liquor license away,’” Walker said. “I mean, what are you going to do?”

State officials confirmed Wednesday that agents spoke with an undisclosed number of businesses in Sutter and Yuba counties on Tuesday to enforce the shutdown order’s safety regulations. Several business owners told The Chronicle that they got visits or phone calls from regulators demanding that they abide by shelter-in-place rules or risk losing their license to operate.

Business Violators III 5.6.2020

Restaurants and pubs were visited by officials with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, who made sure businesses like Walker’s offered only takeout dining, which is permitted under the state rules.

Barbershops, salons and spas, meanwhile, reported receiving phone calls from officials with the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, telling them to close completely. These businesses are considered too risky to open because they could hasten spread of the coronavirus.

“We thought we were going to be open this week,” said Kristi Goldby, who runs Headlines Salon and Spa in Yuba City and had begun rescheduling appointments with customers.

But state regulators called Goldby on Tuesday afternoon, telling her not to honor the appointments. Several of her cosmetologists said they had received emails from the state telling them not to go to work.

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology could not be reached immediately, but the state ABC confirmed it was helping enforce the statewide lockdown. It did not provide details of the effort.

“Agents asked those ABC-licensed locations to close to in-house dining voluntarily until it is safe to reopen, in order to stop the spread of COVID-19,” spokesman John Carr said in an email. “ABC could discipline a business that does not comply with the request to turn into a take-out only operation. As of today, we have not filed any administrative actions against any businesses.”

On Wednesday, many establishments — namely those that don’t require state licensing — continued to operate in defiance of Newsom’s order.

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The reopening of the region follows a similar resumption of commerce in remote Modoc County last week as well as various reopenings of clusters of businesses across the state, all growing weary of the state shutdown.

As in the other areas, officials in Sutter and Yuba counties cited the low number of COVID-19 cases and a need for the governor to loosen restrictions in places less affected by the virus.

The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment from The Chronicle on the Yuba City-area crackdown.