On the same day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would likely extend the three-week stay-home order instituted earlier this month, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and others took part in a rally calling upon the state and county to reopen businesses, schools and houses of worship affected by the order.
Newsom announced the order Dec. 3 in the wake of ballooning rates of infection and increased death rates around most of the state. The order is linked to the availability of ICU beds in five regions of California. The Southern California region's ICU rate is currently at 0%, Newsom said on Monday. Southern California's order is set to expire on Dec. 30 unless it is extended, which, Newsom said, based on all the data, would probably be pushed back into January.
Monday's event began at 3 p.m. in the El Cajon Centennial Plaza on Civic Center Way, which was called the "All I Want for Christmas is Freedom Rally," was attended by several hundred rally-goers by 4 p.m.
The organizer of the event is Reopen San Diego, a self-described "non-partisan coalition of concerned citizens from every walk of life. We are committed to defending the natural rights of every resident of San Diego County so that we all may pursue life, liberty and happiness."
Reopen San Diego maintains that the government "does not have the authority to arbitrarily decide which businesses or livelihoods are essential or not" and that each San Diegan is entitled to individually make decisions regarding their own health.
In addition to Wells attending, Congressman-Elect Darrell Issa, who will be representing the 50th Congressional District, an area making up most of East County as well as a portion of Riverside County; and State Senator Brian Jones, whose district follows many of the same boundaries, also attended.
Rep. Issa and Mayor Wells got podium time, and echoed similar points to a crowd of hundreds eager for more power and freedom for small business owners.
"There are more important things in life than being afraid to die," Mayor Wells said.
Meanwhile, citizens argued the restrictions on businesses, houses of worship and schools are more harmful than COVID-19.
"The sacrifice that we're being asked to make has no value when you still have an incredible risk of exposure to all the millions of customers and workers at the big box businesses," Reopen San Diego's founder Nica Knite said.
The event was billed as a family event "to save the spirit of Christmas" and will also feature shopping, food and live entertainment.