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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Dozens of Southern California businesses including many in San Diego County are vowing to remain open as a peaceful protest against the state’s regional stay-at-home order.

More than 100 Southern California businesses including many in San Diego County are vowing to remain open as a peaceful protest against the state’s recent regional stay-at-home order.

The effort kicked off Friday in Carlsbad with a group of restaurants opening to customers in defiance of the stay-at-home order. Under the order rolled out by Gov. Gavin Newsom, restaurants are not allowed to hold indoor or outdoor dine-in service, but may open for takeout and delivery service with health modifications.

But with signs posted explaining why they’re still serving customers, Carlsbad eateries say they plan to remain open regardless of the consequences.

“It’s taking a lot of courage from these business owners because they have ABC to worry about, they potentially have law enforcement to worry about, so they have concerns and they are legitimate concerns,” attorney Michael Curran said. “But they’re saying we really have no choice. The alternative is we’re done, it’s over.”

Curran and wife Susan Curran of Curran & Curran Law are advising the businesses at no cost.

“What this is, is restaurants, gyms, salons staying open,” Curran said. “As part of a constitutionally protected peaceful protest of these arbitrary and overbearing government orders.”

Business owners know the decision comes with risk. For most, it’s worth trying, if only for the chance to salvage their livelihoods.

“For us, it’s not a political movement — we want to be very clear on that,” said Annie Rammel, owner at Oak and Elixir. “This doesn’t have to do with politics. This has to do with I’ve put my whole heart, soul finances, blood, sweat, and tears into this business.”

She adds, “I’m not willing to give up without a fight — I’m just not.”

The Village in Carlsbad was bustling with customers Friday, looking to keep their favorite local spots alive during this pandemic. Several restaurants were happily serving customers while still attempting to maintain a safe environment.

Police visited some of establishments, but took an educational approach in giving warnings to businesses and educational handouts to dine-in customers.

In a statement, Kristina Ray, the city’s communication and engagement director, said the city understands the pandemic has been “particularly hard on restaurants.” They plan to approach compliance through education, which she said has been a successful approach in the community.

Diners are seen enjoying food and drinks at a Carlsbad restaurant on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.

“For those choosing not to comply with the health orders, there is a legal process in place, and we will follow it,” Ray said. “Willful violations witnessed by our officers are reported to the county for potential prosecution by the District Attorney’s Office.”

Ray said the quickest way for restaurants to reopen is to follow the advice of public health experts in wearing masks and staying home except for essential outings.

“We all share the same goal, and working together is the best way to get our lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” she said.