Two SLO County supervisors asks state to stop threatening businesses

San Luis Obispo County supervisors Debbie Arnold and John Peschong sent a letter Monday to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control stop threatening to close local restaurants, bars and wineries for violating COVID-19 regulations unless the rules are supported by empirical data.

Arnold and Peschong’s letter:

“Dear Governor Newsom,

“It has come to our attention that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has issued official warnings to many San Luis Obispo County businesses. These businesses are following the guidelines of the Governor’s emergency order including use of face coverings, sanitization, social distancing, and capacity restrictions. San Luis Obispo County encourages them to continue to exercise these safety protocols, but we must recognize the need for small business owners to resume operations to safeguard their livelihoods as well as the thousands of jobs they create.

“Under the governor’s emergency order, the restaurants, bars, wineries, breweries, and distilleries in our county need to be treated fairly and consistently. There is very little evidence that in-person service at these businesses is a significant contributor to the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, the Superior Court in Los Angeles County issued an injunction overturning the ban on outdoor eating for being arbitrary and not based on scientific evidence.

“The Governor’s Health Secretary also conceded there is no empirical basis for the ban. It is clear that the continued operation of such businesses is not a known threat to public health or safety, particularly those following safety protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“According to the California Restaurant Association, an estimated 30-percent of California’s restaurants are at risk of closing permanently. Yelp data shows that 60-percent of businesses that were required to shutdown are closing permanently. To take administrative action against licensees now will only further damage the industry and destroy the jobs of 1.4 million Californians.

“Any enforcement effort against small businesses should be based on publicly available, scientific evidence that is consistently applied. These businesses and their employees have already suffered greatly as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and have worked to preserve their livelihoods while safely protecting their community. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.”