Covid-19

Cease & Desist: Local Businesses React To County's Tough Enforcement Strategy

By all accounts, businesses served with cease and desist paperwork over last several days are abiding by the orders

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At least four more businesses were served with cease and desist orders by the County of San Diego Wednesday for allegedly violating public health orders that prohibit many indoor operations, bringing the total served since Monday to at least 34.

The cease and desist letters come as local public health officials attempt to step up enforcement efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus due to surging cases that have pushed San Diego County into the purple tier, which forced restaurants and bars to close indoor operations once again and other businesses to limit their capacity.

Those served include restaurants and restaurants, bars, churches, gyms, and yoga studios, according to the county.

NBC 7 conducted a random check at several of the businesses and found that all of them appeared to be abiding by the orders.

The Shelter Bar in Encinitas had the cease and desist order posted on a window. The business was closed.

The Landing restaurant in El Cajon was open, but patrons were being served on tables set up in an outside parking lot. Indoor service was closed. The owner was not available for comment.

Fit Athletic Club in Carmel Mountain was open for outdoor operation only. Fit has been served five cease and desist orders at locations across the county. The general manager was not available for comment pending a ruling on legal action the club is taking part in.

Yoga Six was served nine cease and desist orders at locations across the county. The studio stayed open for three days after purple tier restrictions went into effect last Saturday.

“It’s heartbreaking honestly,” said Nicole Vincent, a yoga instructor and manager at Yoga Six in Solana Beach.

“It is upsetting because we have been really been following the safety protocols within our studio, keeping the mat six feet apart, requiring that our students be masked when they’re in the studio, doing extra cleaning in between classes,” said Vincent.

Vincent says students have been coming to the yoga studio, in part, to relieve the mental anguish brought on by the pandemic.

And to add to her frustration, Vincent pointed to county data that shows very few COVID-19 cases have been connected to gyms and none have been linked to her studio.

“Out of gyms and fitness centers, only 0.3% -- which is less than 50 people in San Diego County -- have actually contracted COVID within their space. And those are in gyms, so no yoga studios, including ours, has had any contact tracing tied to it,” said Vincent.

Vincent was served cease and desist paperwork on Tuesday and says the studio has no further intention to challenge the restrictions prohibiting indoor operations.

“We did take it seriously, they told us if we continued indoor classes today, they would show up with shut down orders, and if we continued to operate, they would start hitting us with fines every single day,” said Vincent.

Vincent said students have volunteered to pay any fines.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a Superior Court judge will hear arguments that the restrictions violate the state constitution. The legal action is being taken on behalf of four local businesses, including FIT Athletic Club.

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