‘It's Called Freedom': Small Businesses Openly Defy State Shutdown Orders

Several businesses on Grand Avenue in Escondido say it's a "matter of survival"

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A day after new state shutdown orders went into effect, many small businesses are refusing to comply with the orders and are defiantly staying open for business.

“I’m not trying to buck the system,” said Joe Locricchio, the owner of Tony Pepperoni Pizzaria. "I’m not trying to be a rebel. I’m trying to survive."

Locricchio's restaurant was busy on Tuesday afternoon, with customers expressing support for his business defying the shutdown order.

“I don’t want our town diminished by this,” said Fritz Hinrich, a lifelong Escondido resident. "I think we can be rational. We can do this in a good way that makes sense, but we can’t destroy our town."

A block away from the pizzeria, there was a line of customers out the front door at Koffie, a craft coffee shop on Grand Avenue. Most of the customers were not wearing masks or social distancing.

On Sunday, the owner of Koffie posted a video on social media announcing his intent to defy the order.

“We have a right to operate our business, and the governor of our state cannot tell us that we cannot make a living by opening our business as we see fit,” said the unnamed owner.

Across the street from Koffie, Manzanita Coffee Roasting remained open for takeout, but owner Weston Nawrocki said he would leave it up to his customers where they wanted to sit.

“We’re just going to let people decide what they want to do," Nawrocki said. "They can exercise their right to protest and sit outside, and that is fine by us,."

Meanwhile, the Escondido Police Department released a statement regarding enforcement.

“Our approach has been to educate and work with businesses to help them to continue to operate without violating the health orders,” Escondido Police Lt. Kevin Toth wrote to NBC 7 in an email. "This has typically been accomplished through city funding and temporary permits to allow businesses to operate outside that are not normally able to do so.  Businesses that refuse to comply with the health orders are subject to citations, which may result in fines.  The county public health department has also been issuing cease-and-desist orders to businesses failing to comply throughout the county."

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