In the face of California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, some business owners in South Orange County have decided to reopen their doors anyway, and one restaurant on Sunday was full to capacity soon after it opened, two days after opening for business.
Nomads Canteen in San Clemente has dining-in available, with tables spaced out to ensure physical distancing, and patio seating as well. https://t.co/AleUlwabkp
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) May 4, 2020
Jeff Gourey, the owner of Nomads Canteen in San Clemente, where he employs 25 people, told NBC News that he contacted city and county officials about reopening and no one dissuaded him from doing so. Gourey, who was “fighting back tears,” according to NBC News, stated, “I’m emotional. It’s a bigger fight than for my restaurant. It’s for my people.” He added, “How long do we hide from it, regardless? We can’t stop working. We can’t stop living.”
Gourey acknowledged he had told people to observe social distancing, but added that he felt because he and his staff are young they would be able to fend off the coronavirus. He said, “Six weeks is plenty of time; that’s what I believe. On a sunny day like this, no one is at risk.”
One customer told NBC News, “I miss the interaction and being out.” Another echoed, “It feels extraordinary to be in a restaurant because it’s been six weeks.”
Before Gourey reopened his restaurant around noon on Friday, May 1, he stated, “We set out to keep social distancing per the county requirements. The deck stayed pretty socially distant until the rally just ended a few minutes ago, and the rally came (to the restaurant), so they kind of filled in the spaces right now. We’re doing what we can do and letting people make their own decisions. That’s kind of where we’re at.” He continued, “I chose May 1 over a month ago. I closed a day before the mandate. I wanted to know what was going on with the virus. I was all about stopping it, ‘flatten the curve.’ I said, ‘I’ll give (the state and county) six weeks, and I’ll open May 1.’ That’s the date I picked because if we go beyond that, the economic injury is so extreme to the entire city that I don’t think we’ll recover,” as the San Clemente Times reported.
Gourey said, “I’m the only place open; it concentrates the people. I set up everything for social distancing, but I’m not going to go move people. I’m not going to determine who’s a family member. I can’t.” He stated that he had been regularly testing his staff for COVID-19 antibodies, adding, “One hundred percent of my staff was negative, so every single person here (today) we tested.”
Gourey pointed out that the daily number of new cases in San Clemente had plateaued, then concluded, “Where’s it going to come from? We’ve all been quarantining at home. Where’s it going to come from?”
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