CARLSBAD, Calif. — Some businesses in Carlsbad are receiving notices from the city reminding them to comply with COVID-19 public health orders.
In a lengthy meeting this week, Carlsbad City Council members approved new incentives to encourage business owners to follow the rules. They’ve also decided to beef up consequences for those not in compliance.
Businesses defying the health order face the risk of prosecution, paying fines or losing temporary activation permits, which allow them to run their businesses outside.
“In order to enjoy that benefit, they really have to ensure that they are complying with the public health orders,” said David Graham, the city’s chief innovation officer.
The effort to contain a global pandemic with no modern precedent has created challenges for businesses, Graham said, adding that he appreciates those working with the city to find a solution.
“They have been a part of the solution,” he said. “I want to be very clear that the vast majority are good actors and they have helped contribute to a safe climate.”
Bret Schanzenbach, president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was trying to encourage the city not to take punitive measures against businesses. Many have struggled to survive during the pandemic as shifting public health rules tend to follow spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, forced some to operate at a lesser capacity — or not at all, in some instances.
Local leaders have made attempts to help businesses this year, investing $5 million into an economic revitalization package to help those impacted by the pandemic, among other initiatives.
But some in Carlsbad Village, remaining open as a “peaceful protest” against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order, have caught the attention of San Diego County leaders.
“There are a lot of businesses here in The Village that have stayed open out of necessity, so they’ve got a lot of attention here,” Schanzenbach said.
The repeated closures don’t make sense to Justin Davis, a server at Caldo Pomodoro, a pizzeria and Italian food restaurant in Carlsbad.
“A majority of people in this town, they want to see us stay open and they’re happy that we’re thriving and it’s just common sense to allow people to make their own choice,” Davis said.
Still, Schanzenbach said he has been pleased with the city’s response to businesses this past year.
“The city of Carlsbad has actually been really, really supportive of small business during this pandemic,” he said. “Everything from streamlining an administrative permit process so that restaurants could expand into parking lots to a very robust small business loan program.”