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Carlsbad's Motion For Stricter Enforcement Of Public Health Regulations Fails

A sign is shown in a Carlsbad restaurant defying orders to close down in-person dining on January 5, 2021.
Nicholas McVicker
A sign is shown in a Carlsbad restaurant defying orders to close down in-person dining on January 5, 2021.

UPDATE: 7:45 p.m., Jan. 5, 2020:

A motion for stricter COVID-19 restrictions on dining in Carlsbad failed Tuesday night. The Carlsbad City Council listened to public comments on considering stricter enforcement of the regulations, which forbid indoor and outdoor dining, for more than three hours before the motion failed to advance to a vote.

Councilmember Cori Schumacher, who called for the special meeting, made the motion but it was not seconded by any other councilmembers.

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Carlsbad's Motion For Stricter Enforcement Of Public Health Regulations Fails
Listen to this story by John Carroll.

Ever since the state stay-at-home order went into effect on Dec. 5, some restaurants in the county have chosen to defy it and stay open, at least for outdoor dining.

In Carlsbad, a handful of restaurants have shown where they stand by keeping their doors open and putting signs up.

Michael Curran is a lawyer who represents a few hundred restaurants, gyms and salons across the county, including in Carlsbad. He said staying open is not an act of defiance, but rather just peaceful protest.

He said up until now, Carlsbad Police have been handling those protests the right way.

“Carlsbad Police have come in and pretty much said, 'Well you’re aware of these orders. You’re supposed to be following them, but we see that you’re not. We see that you’re in the midst of a peaceful protest. Here’s a box of masks. Have a nice day.'”

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But that could now change. Up until now, the Carlsbad City Council had just four members on it, and when they last voted on enforcing public health regulations, it was a tie. But now there’s a fifth member on the council.

“This is really about getting to a point where, with a five-member council, we can give very clear direction on what we expect out of our staff and what we expect from our community members when it comes to taking care of each other during a public health crisis," Schumacher said.

Emails to the council in advance of Tuesday’s meeting showed Schumacher and her colleagues face some stiff opposition to stricter enforcement.

"Please don't run us out of Carlsbad. We rely on these restaurants to keep us sane. We will all just go to Encinitas or Oceanside to dine if you shut them down," wrote Gina Parson.

Carlsbad City Council Weighs Enforcing Mandates

"I really don't want giant corporations to own everything in Carlsbad or SoCal. Please support allowing restaurants to remain open and allowed to have outdoor dining. There is nothing scientific that says eating outside and following the guidelines spreads Covid," said a writer who identified herself only as Sally.

But there was also support for increased enforcement.

"Please fulfill your duty and enforce state and county health orders regarding closure of businesses and limiting restaurants to take out only. Our health depends upon it, especially with the new Covid variant surfacing in our county," wrote Tom Maddox.

Schumacher said there have already been 28 cease and desist orders issued by the County in her district alone. If stricter enforcement had been approved, fines could range from $1 to $500 per violation.

Corrected: June 20, 2024 at 8:02 AM PDT
North County multimedia producer Alexander Nguyen contributed to this report.