News and Commentary

Licensing Agencies Threaten Business Owners Who Defy California Governor’s Orders
PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25, 2019: A barber's pole advertises the location of a barber shop in Palm Springs, California.
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

California regulatory agencies have started threatening business owners who defy the governor’s four-phase business reopening plan, and have been notifying barbershops and restaurants that they may have their licenses revoked if they operate outside the state-approved public health guidelines.

The California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, one of the agencies, has been visiting restaurants in Yuba and Sutter counties, two areas that have enacted less stringent public health measures than the governor’s orders, and threatened to revoke their alcohol licenses if they don’t stop in-person dining, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Since the agency began reportedly making its threats, Dr. Phuong Luu, the public health officer for the two counties, has called on businesses to make sure that they’re complying with the county’s public health, reports the Times.

“It is imperative to make all necessary adjustments to the way we conduct business in our community immediately so that we do not run the risk of seeing a resurgence and need to go back to stricter orders,” said Dr. Luu.

The California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has also been threatening to “pursue disciplinary action” against salons and barbershops that depend on them for licenses in order to operate legally, reports KRCR News.

“If businesses continue to put public health and safety at risk by not following the guidance provided, and if circumstances warrant it, the Board may pursue disciplinary action against their license. This will not be taken lightly,” said the agency.

Charlie Hustle, a barber in the county seat of Yuba County, told Capital Public Radio in Sacramento that he recently received a call from the state instructing him to close, but that he doesn’t plan on doing so.

“I know there’s a lot of people at risk. There’s a lot of people dying who shouldn’t be dying,” said Hustle, who rents a space inside of a local barbershop that never closed. “But I feel like the way the media is portraying this. They’re instilling fear in a lot of people. Fear’s controlling a lot of what’s going on.”

Business owner Chris Drown told Fox-40 that a day after reopening The Happy Viking, a sports bar in Yuba City, agents with the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control threatened to revoke his liquor license for serving dine-in customers.

“We do still have the best chicken wings in California but they need beer to go with them,” Drown, who is unsure about his next steps, told the news agency.

Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) previously declined to share whether he would consider legal remedies against local governments that adopt public health guidelines with looser restrictions than the state.

“They’re making a big mistake; they’re putting their public at risk; they’re putting our progress at risk,” said the governor during a press conference on Tuesday. “I would encourage them just to do the right thing, and know that we are committed to working with them as we have been, and their county representatives.”

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