Encinitas cracks down on restaurants defying public health order

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ENCINITAS, Calif. — The city of Encinitas is cracking down on restaurants openly defying the state-mandated stay-at-home order.

Some restaurant owners say they are not shutting down and the city is now threatening to take away permits for outdoor dining.

This comes after San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria issued his first executive order directing more enforcement of COVID-19-related public health orders.

South Coast Highway in Encinitas was busy and bustling with people out and about Saturday despite the stay-at-home order.

“Businesses are suffering,” customer Melinda Helbock said. “Two particular businesses that I have frequented my entire time that I’ve lived here have been Solace, that is now gone, and Encinitas Lumberyard, that is now gone. And I feel for these people and I feel for Maurizio.”

Maurizio Trattoria Italiana is one of many restaurants defying the stay-at-home order that prohibits indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants can offer takeout and delivery.

“They have gone through so much to try to stay open, and remember this is the surviving 40%,” Michael Curran, a lawyer representing Maurizio Trattoria Italiana, said. “Our clients are the survivors, so this is not a political issue for them, it is a survival issue for them.”

The city of Encinitas said if businesses continue to defy restrictions, they are in danger of losing their encroachment permits. The city-issued permits allow businesses to offer outdoor dining in city right-of-ways, including sidewalks, streets and parking spots.

The city said restaurants could also face hefty fines. Code enforcement officers have been told to contact businesses to seek voluntary compliance.

“Businesses operating in defiance of the regional stay-at-home order encourage gatherings outside the household, creating an unsafe environment and an illusion that the rapid spread of COVID-19 is not something to take seriously,” City Manager Pam Antil said in a news release.

San Diego County has recorded 164,500 cases of COVID-19 and 1,592 deaths attributed to the virus since February 14, 2020.

County health officials reported 4,427 new cases Saturday, following a record-breaking 4,478 cases confirmed Friday. County hospitals have seen a surge in coronavirus patients and dip in ICU availability, which led the state to extend the regional stay-at-home order this week.

Encinitas officials are urging customers to support restaurants by ordering takeout rather than defying restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

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