Nearly 200 South Bay businesses fined for COVID violations

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Nearly 200 businesses in Santa Clara County were fined for violating health guidelines over the Thanksgiving weekend.

In Santana Row, a number of restaurants and retail shops were fined over the holiday weekend. 

One business manager KRON4 spoke to says the county’s health guidelines were not very clear.

Straits restaurant received two fines over the Thanksgiving weekend. One for not social distancing, the other for a customer not wearing a mask.

“We try our very very best to tell our patrons to wear masks at all times, they can’t even enter the restaurant to enter to use the restroom without a mask,” Julian Yeo said. 

Julian Yeo is the restaurant operator and says he understands the purpose of these fines but says his business was following health orders.

“We didn’t get docked for actually social distancing, the tables were socially distanced. We got docked because we have a patio outside of our restaurant it’s below an archway that they’re considering it indoor,” Yeo said. 

He’s talking about this space, the restaurant was serving customers outside the entrance but county business compliance officers considered the area indoors so they got fined.

The business next door could be seen serving tables at a similar spot Wednesday evening.

“I’m all for the safety of everybody but it has to be consistent like you can’t just tell me I can’t have it but the next guy 100 feet away from me can,” Yeo said. 

The county business compliance unit visited 427 businesses over the Thanksgiving weekend and issued 181 violation notices.

A map of the locations showing businesses fined in Stanford Shopping Center, Santana Row, and Eastridge Mall. From Valley Fair, Oakridge Mall, and the Gilroy Premium Outlets.

As COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to rise at record levels, county public health officials warned before Thanksgiving they would be out in force issuing citations and fines during the holiday weekend.

Initial fine amounts totaled over $115,000.

County officials say the top three violations were failure to submit a social distancing protocol, failure to properly post required signage for social distancing, and required capacity.

Yeo plans to contest his fines.

“It’s kind of difficult working with them because there’s no guidelines, there’s no discretion, there’s no clear vision, there’s no consistency with these fines either it’s kind of like what they see on the spot if this is right or this is wrong,” Yeo said. 

The lowest fine was $250 and the highest single fine was nearly $3,800. The fines go up for repeat violations.

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