County shuts down Escondido restaurant for alleged health order violations

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. (CNS) – An Escondido restaurant has been ordered by the county to shutter its doors after its owner allegedly refused to comply with the county’s COVID-19-related public health order.

County health officials issued the notice Thursday to Hernandez Hideaway, stating that the establishment must remain closed until its owner prepares a revised COVID-19 Restaurant Operating Plan, which would show the county “that social distancing and sanitation standards will be followed in Hernandez Hideaway.”

The county’s order alleges that following its May 21 reopening, the date when county restaurants were cleared to resume in-person dining, public health officials observed employees were not wearing masks, and that social distancing and sanitation protocols were not in place.

The order, signed by San Diego County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, states sheriff’s deputies also observed staff not wearing face coverings on other occasions during the month of June.

On Tuesday, the order states that health officials responded to the restaurant following a complaint and spoke with restaurant owner Rick Stevens, who “admitted that he was not compliant and stated he will continue to operate without these COVID preventative measures and will not require staff to wear face coverings.”

The restaurant is the second in the county to be shut down due to alleged violations of public health orders.

El Prez in Pacific Beach was closed down one day after in-person dining resumed across the county, after videos circulated on social media depicting large crowds gathered in close quarters at the restaurant, many of whom were not wearing masks.

El Prez since has reopened with new regulations regarding masks, social distancing, party size and reservations.

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