The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules title=
Credit: Daniel Dreifuss / The Independent
59 Comments
Reads 15354

This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden

There is no doubt the vast majority of Santa Barbara bars and restaurants have done their best to comply with the state’s strict and ever-changing COVID-19 health orders, often at great sacrifice to their bottom lines, and sometimes their very futures.

Of course, there were slip-ups here and there ― masks riding below the nose, tables packed a little too close ― but more often than not a friendly reminder or two or three from county officials brought the businesses back into compliance. Sometimes the conversations happened off the record. Many chances were given. 

A handful of locations, however, have stubbornly refused to follow the rules, even after multiple warnings and outright threats to their licenses. The notices often piggybacked off public complaints. But because the county has taken such a light touch with enforcement ― preferring to communicate and educate rather than issue fines or injunctions ― these businesses have so far escaped any consequences. 

That may change as authorities said earlier this month they’re exploring both legal and administrative actions against “some of our more egregious and repeat offenders,” or who they called our “frequent flyers.” 

In response to a California Public Records Act request filed by the Independent in January, we now know the identity of some of the top offenders. They range from State Street bars to Santa Maria steakhouses. All were given an opportunity to answer questions from the paper about their recorded violations. As of press time, none had responded. 

Eos Lounge, Santa Barbara ― On June 25, 2020, reacting to multiple public complaints and firsthand observations by staff, the Public Health Department issued a “Notice of Violation” to the popular downtown Santa Barbara nightclub. Officials had seen customers “not wearing required facial coverings while moving around inside the business” and a “lack of social distancing between groups of customers / separate parties inside the facility.”

On November 19, 2020, the Health Department hand-delivered another letter detailing new issues, including a party of 20 people sitting inside at a single long table as well as “multiple guests standing up, mixing, mingling at the facility.” 

The department threatened to close Eos and ordered the club to attend an administrative hearing, where it could defend itself. The owners did so successfully, but since then, Eos has racked up eight more public complaints.

The Swiss Restaurant, Santa Maria ― The North County steakhouse received its own notice on February 3, 2021, after six public complaints over a short two-week period just before the New Year. When inspectors arrived, they saw the business was serving the majority of its food and drinks indoors in direct defiance of Health Officer Order 2021-12.1. Since that warning, other patrons have observed similar activity. 

The Chase, Santa Barbara ― The Chase, a State Street mainstay, was cited December 14, 2020, as a “repeat violator.” Customers were continually allowed to order and eat meals on the restaurant’s front tables, inspectors said, despite the takeout-only order. Waitstaff were routinely seen without masks on the crowded patio.

“To have patrons seated in the chairs so close to each other’s adjacent tables is infuriating,” one of the public complaints said. Since then, the restaurant has received four additional complaints.

Tap & Cork, Lompoc ― Since the start of the pandemic, the Lompoc craft beer and wine bar has been the target of a record number 13 calls and emails from concerned citizens. The most recent was logged last week.

On February 19, 2021, county staff knocked the business for “continuing to provide indoor service” and said its operating permit was at risk. Records include mentions of late night karaoke and customers eating and drinking at the bar after closing.

Jack’s in Old Orcutt, Orcutt ― This rural restaurant and bakery had no known record until December 9, 2020, when it started racking up violations. Records show indoor and outdoor dining when it wasn’t allowed.

Sandbar and Baja Sharkeez, Santa Barbara ― No fewer than 23 complaints have been filed against these two State Street bars. The most common grievances from both citizens and county staff were bartenders and servers not wearing masks, indoor and outdoor tables placed right next to each other, and people “generally not giving a damn.”

Two more Santa Barbara businesses ― Santo Mezcal and O’Malley’s Bar ― found themselves in serious hot water during the first few months of the pandemic. Santo Mezcal was close to losing its license for serving customers at its inside bar, despite at least three written warnings. But after conversations with Public Health staff, both locations made the necessary corrections and haven’t had any issues since.

Login to add Comments

59 Comments

Show Comments
Andrea Smith Mar 20, 2021 08:01 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

I think it's wrong that these businesses flouted mandates while others complied, which is essentially stealing business and $ from those businesses but the real question is - did any of them being open contribute to a higher case rate and if so by what percentage, and / or did any of them have outbreaks or staff who got infected and/or customers? Can that question even be answered?

dukemunson Mar 20, 2021 08:27 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

It’s a ridiculous question andrea... but if you are honestly that worried about an errant waiter improperly wearing a mask or a slightly too large group sitting together, don’t go to any restaurants...or anywhere... just sit out another year. You’ll feel better and be safer.

Channelfog Mar 20, 2021 07:42 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

60 Minutes did this piece on the virus and its' mutations. Of particular interest is the graph that shows the multitude of mutations plotted over time. The complexity of the graph explains why herd immunity to new forms is virtually impossible, vaccines or not.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOK-yvXCcGo

Channelfog Mar 20, 2021 07:28 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

Lack of ability to make a living kills too. Big boys get payouts, the rest of us get stimulus checks but many are left hanging. Tax revenues are down and 20% of all US currency in circulation now was created in 2020! That alone is at least a 20% de-facto inflation rate! Of course the official inflation rate is no where near as high. If the planet does not et back to work ASAP, we will all lose everything. I have zero faith in any vaccine as Coronavieus mutates too fast. That goes for any "herd immunity", from vaccines or from coursing the sickness as well. Unfortunately, we are going to lose a lot more people no matter which path we take.

JB86 Mar 19, 2021 11:17 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

I think part of the problem is irrational, arbitrary rules that make no sense and detract confidence in the rules that DO make sense, like masking and distancing. Stupid rules, like beach and park closures, and the food rule for bars, erode confidence in the good rules. To their credit the News-Press tried to get an explanation of the basis for the 'bars must serve food rules,' and arbitrary time limits on operation. The answers they got from State and County health authorities were basically jibberish - there really was no scientific basis for the bar rules. So no one knows the origin or rationale for these stupid rules, beyond the whim of some anonymous bureaucrat/s. Coincidentally Gavin's Winery served food and dodged the bullet.

seaninsb Mar 17, 2021 11:50 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

Who cares, they survived. They kept people employed. They took action. The city let the bums take over SB, state street is dead, no action Murillo stayed silent, who really lost? Downtown is an utter failure right now. Murillo is involved with Paul Casey in more examples of corruption that have yet to surface. I’m glad that these business thrived. Sometimes you have to say forget about it and do what needs to be done to survive. SB has had over 60 businesses on state street fail during covid. City council is just about painting green lines and passing out Cup cakes to the homeless.

Babycakes Mar 17, 2021 06:35 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

This should make you snitches and Doxxers happy:
From SFGate: .........As amusement parks reopen across the Golden State, visitors may face a near-impossible request: no screaming on roller coasters. The California Attractions and Parks Association released guidelines for reopening and recommends that parks limit activities that are known to increase the spread of the coronavirus, including shouting, singing and heavy breathing.
So, when you see someone screaming while free-falling or looping-the-loop, go ahead and report them if it makes you happy and in "compliance with the rules" set down by those who don't follow the rules. LOL!!! No SCREAMING on a Rolllllller CoAsSSssSSsssSSSTer!!!

Voice of Reason Mar 18, 2021 07:09 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

Sac, it’s like you’ve forgotten all our comments back and forth over the past year, no not nothing and they aren’t doing nothing in Florida either. The government there is doing what it’s supposed to do, providing information on the virus, information on mitigation, assisting with vaccine distribution, supporting hospitals so they have what they need and supporting its general population and business as they all work together to manage this crisis. People and businesses in FL aren’t going about like it’s 2019, they are taking responsible mitigation steps that works best for their families, their communities, and their businesses. That is the opposite of CA where arbitrary decisions where made on what is “essential” (weed!) and what is not “essential” (schools!) with blanket mandates that try and cover every scenario for a large and diverse state all at once. Florida supported their population to make the right decisions down to the community level, CA thinks government knows best, we’re incapable of making good decisions on our own, and we should shut up and take it without questioning authority.

sacjon Mar 17, 2021 06:28 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

VOR - so we should have done absolutely NOTHING? And no..... do not say "Florida." I mean, if we did NOTHING, no masks, no distancing, no limitations whatsoever on large indoor close-up gatherings, no NOTHING that we'd still have the same numbers? If we carried on completely normal, we still would have the same numbers? Of course, you know you can't prove a negative like this, but come on..... common sense?

Voice of Reason Mar 17, 2021 06:14 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

The data does not support what your saying Sac. None of the CA health departments were ever able to provide any data in any of the court cases that showed these measures reduced the spread. The head of CHHS even said it wasn't about the safety of those activities (dinning) but trying to force people not to see each other (which backfired bigtime as people just meet in their own homes and cases skyrocketed). Data out of the state of new york attributed less than 2% of the spread to INDOOR bars and dining. This is also backed up by a number of states that didn't take CA's authoritarian "I'm from the government and I know best" approach with no meaningful difference in cases. All that destruction for no benefit.

sacjon Mar 17, 2021 06:00 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

FERNALD - nothing "stopped" the virus except possibly the vaccine. Closing down bars, wearing masks and minimizing exposure DID slow it down. All we could do was try to slow it down. I think "history" will judge those who fought kicking and screaming to ignore the "liberal hoax" a little more harsh than those who actually tried to slow it down.

a-1616084275 Mar 18, 2021 09:17 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

I totally agree with this. I know too many people that have gotten food poisoning at Sharkeez. I’m not surprised that they are on this list for not caring about their patrons. I’m sure it’s true of the other restaurants too. It’s not that hard to have your servers wear masks. It’s unbelievable to me that some of these restaurants allowed this. Every other restaurant was complying so I’m not sure why they felt they were so special. I’m guessing they were run by people who don’t believe Covid is a thing. Just like a lot of commenters on here.

CoastWatch Mar 17, 2021 03:36 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

Tyler is the kid in 4th grade, on Friday afternoon, who tells the teacher that she forgot to assign the weekend homework.... Nice job Tyler, you are the reason we are mired in the "Cancel Culture" wokeness that is taking down our country. Thanks for the article. My family, friends and I now know where we'll be going and and giving our patronage.

SBsurferlife Mar 17, 2021 03:16 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

This isn't about snitching, this is about a handful of businesses who felt superior to other establishments that they defied the rules while the others suffered. If they truly believed about the cause to stay open, why not band together and rebuff the rules because the city surely won't take action against every restaurant in town. Instead, these people knew it was the wrong thing to do and they did it anyway to be selfish. This is evidenced by the number of complaints from customers who want to support them.

Babycakes Mar 17, 2021 03:10 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

What is the point of listing the offending businesses? If you walk into a place and you're worried that they're following Governor Newsom's example or Nancy Pelosi's example, then don't go in to have a bite or have your hair done. Reminds me of "Margaret" who would always squeal on "The Beaver" and let the teech know what someone was doing wrong. The only reason I can see to publish their names is to "punish" them....."Do what we tell you or else!"

Chip of SB Mar 17, 2021 03:08 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

The latest report out from the CDC dated March 12 analyzed the reduction of new COVID cases achieved by restaurant closure orders and by mask orders. The restaurant closure orders reduced the rate of new COVID cases by about 1% and deaths by 3% according to the cdc data. Such a small benefit does not seem to justify the harm these policies have inflicted. Assuming a total of 500,000 COVID deaths, this would equate to approximately 15,000 lives. To put this in context, drug overdose deaths are projected to be about 86,000 for the past year, compared to about 70,000 for the year before COVID. This is an increase of over 20%, and it exceeds the lives that might have been saved by restaurant closures. It is starting to look more and more like mask mandates and lockdown orders caused more people to die from drugs, alcohol, and suicide than they saved from COVID.

letmego Mar 18, 2021 11:01 AM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

I'm fascinated that Chip has decided to read the CDC report, and decide on his own that the advantages to masking and closing on-premises dining aren't worth the lives saved or the case reduction.

I mean, the people at the CDC think they are important. But apparently Chip does not. I mean, nevermind that spread of COVID last spring before masking was recommended resulted in exponential increases in cases.

Chip of SB Mar 17, 2021 03:55 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

That’s right 3:44, but you missed the punchline. How much did these measures reduce deaths and new cases??? The report says about 1-3% at most! Drug overdose deaths are up by something like 20-25%!!! The net result of masking and lockdowns when you weigh drug overdoses, suicides, etc. against the lives saved from COVID is a net increase in the number of people who have died. We could have saved lives by never implementing the mask and lockdown policies in the first place.

a-1616021060 Mar 17, 2021 03:44 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

"Mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates 1–20, 21–40, 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days after implementation. Allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41–60, 61–80, and 81–100 days after reopening, and increases in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 61–80 and 81–100 days after reopening. Implementing mask mandates was associated with reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whereas reopen- ing restaurants for on-premises dining was associated with increased transmission. Policies that require universal mask use and restrict any on-premises restaurant dining are important components of a comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure to and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (1). Such efforts are increas- ingly important given the emergence of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants in the United States (3,4)."

Chip of SB Mar 17, 2021 03:31 PM
The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

Here is the cdc report outlining the reductions in cases and deaths achieved by masking and restaurant closures. The tables break it down by time period from 20 to 100 days after the orders were implemented.
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/pdfs/mm7010e3-H.pdf

Here is a cdc article about the increase of drug overdose deaths during COVID.
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html

And here is the very latest CFC data on the number of drug overdose deaths. Latest projection is nearly 90,000.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm

Pages

Please Login or Register to comment on this.