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County Promises Enforcement Of COVID-19 Rules, Some Restaurants Applaud Move

Two women sit down for a socially distanced lunch inside Urban Mo's in Hillcr...

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Two women sit down for a socially distanced lunch inside Urban Mo's in Hillcrest, June 19, 2020.

Restaurants have been allowed to reopen their dining rooms for about a month, but after multiple COVID-19 outbreaks involving eateries and other businesses, the county is promising to go after those that don't follow safety protocols.

"We will be looking to increase enforcement on folks who are egregious violators of what’s happening," San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

Officials are counting on businesses to enforce guidelines, like spacing tables six feet apart and making sure people are wearing face coverings. While most are complying, not everyone is.

"We’re adamant about it, and we have masks for people, so if they forget their mask and they still want to come in it’s great," said Moe Girton who runs Gossip Grill in Hillcrest. "But it’s usually at night we’re seeing the influx of people that just don't want to wear the mask or follow the rules."

RELATED: San Diego Restaurants Back In The Dine-In Business, With Coronavirus Modifications

KPBS spoke with a couple of restaurant owners who think it should be up to customers to decide whether to wear a face covering. That drew a reaction of disbelief from another owner.

"I think they’re crazy because first their staff — they need to protect their staff," said Chris Shaw, who owns Mo's Universe which includes restaurants like Urban Mo's and Gossip Grill.

At all of Shaw's establishments, people are required to wear face coverings and must have their temperature taken. He has had to turn people away for not wearing masks.

"I’m really glad that the governor announced that it is mandatory to wear face coverings. It makes it a little easy for us," he said.

Shaw would like to see officials start doing some enforcement to make sure everyone is following all of the reopening rules.

"It’s not right when another person down the street packs their place and fills every table they have," he said.

Girton with Gossip Grill said when she saw the news about a month ago of a Pacific Beach bar being shut down for violating reopening rules, she thought all eateries might have to close, but was happy to see officials not make that move.

RELATED: Pacific Beach Bar Closed For Violating Health Order Hours After Reopening

"Go after the bad actors, the ones who are breaking the rules and not punish those that are trying to follow the rules — that are committed to the rules."

Girton is taking reopening precautions very seriously.

"I’ve got 60 people that work for me they all depend on me," she said. "I’ve got a community that needs us and I’ve got a business that we run and it’s important that we keep up and going on that."

Customers have also appreciated the extra precautions.

"We’re not joking around about it," Girton said. "We’re really adamant about it, it’s not worth it for us to bend the rules because someone didn’t wear a mask have a staff member get sick and have to close down for another two weeks which could be the end of our business."

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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