Story at a glance

  • California tells restaurants operating despite the statewide stay-at-home order that they may lose their liquor licenses as punishment.
  • This comes as three counties in Northern California reopened despite current state laws.

Over the past week, California has struggled to reconcile civilian protests against existing stay-at-home orders with the gradual opening of select nonessential businesses

Now, as Yuba and Sutter Counties in Northern California issue local ordinances permitting businesses including restaurants, retailers, malls and gyms to open — defying the plan from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) — state officials warn that these reopened businesses are eligible to lose their operating license. 


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The L.A. Times reports that the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) administered check-ups followed by subsequent warnings to restaurants this past week that they could lose their alcohol license if they don’t shut down dining rooms. 

John Carr, a spokesperson with the ABC, confirmed to the Times that the agency asked restaurants to voluntarily shut down in-house dining on Tuesday.

As in many other states, restaurants in California are only allowed to serve takeout meals under Newsom’s stay-at-home mandate. Alcoholic beverages can be sold to-go as well, but must be sold in a sealed container. 

In response to “numerous complaints” over the past six weeks regarding nonessential businesses operating despite stay-at-home orders, the ABC issued a statement saying thatFor any licensee who has continued to operate despite the Department’s efforts to persuade them to voluntarily comply, the Department is pursuing administrative action against the licensed premises, an action that could result in the suspension or revocation of the license.”


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According to data compiled in the Times, neither Yuba nor Sutter County appear in the list of top five counties with the highest number of coronavirus cases. Regardless, the counties’ health officer, Phuong Luu, penned a letter on Wednesday expressing concern over these businesses not obeying social distancing and stay-at-home measures. 

Luu specifically noted that these measures must be followed to avoid a resurgence of cases and negative long-term health impacts. 

“I understand that some of your customers may strongly object to a facial covering requirement, but the long-term safety of our community is at stake. We do not want to take any steps back in our phasing-in efforts,” Luu wrote. 

Newsom echoed these sentiments during a press conference in Sacramento. He said that the two counties are “making a big mistake” and putting the public at risk, as quoted in the Times. 

The battle between state and local governments regarding public safety protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus is not unique to California; Michigan, Tennessee and Massachusetts are some of the states experiencing protests against lockdown measures.

Earlier this week, Deborah Birx, one of the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said these protests are “devastatingly worrisome.” 

"We also made it very clear to the American people, this is what you need to continue to do to protect yourself. You need to continue to social distance. You need to continue to practice scrupulous handwashing," Birx said on Fox News Sunday. 


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Published on May 07, 2020