Jesse and April Arellano of Castle Rock, Colorado’s C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen ordered to close after defying state rules banning opening amid coronavirus.
People want their freedom – but at what cost?
A Colorado restaurant that opened for full service on Mother’s Day in defiance of state rules banning sit-down dining amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was ordered closed Monday and had its license suspended indefinitely by health officials.
A video posted by Colorado Community Media (see below) showed people sitting at tables and waiting close together in line at the counter of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen while others lined up outside.
Except for one person wearing a mask, the scene at the eatery in Castle Rock about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Denver appeared similar to a busy day at many restaurants before the government allowed only takeout service due to the coronavirus.
Gov. Jared Polis said the restaurant was ‘causing an immediate health hazard,’ and its business license will remain suspended until it is no longer a threat.
‘We’re walking a tightrope between protecting all of our health and of course trying to grow our economy,’ he said. ‘It’s hard enough to walk without folks shaking the rope because of their own ideological or anti-scientific views, which they choose over the lives of our brothers and sisters.’
Public health vs ability to earn income:
The Tri-County Health Department said if the owners refuse to comply, further legal action would be taken that could include the revocation of its license.
‘It is not fair to the rest of the community and other business owners that are following Safer at Home and doing their part,’ the department’s executive director, John M. Douglas, Jr., said in a statement, buzzfeednews reports.
Adding, ‘We sincerely hope that C&C will choose to cooperate with the rules under which they are allowed to operate so we can lift this closure order.’
‘People wanted their freedom,’ owner Jesse Arellano retorted after disconcert came to the fore after video of his packed restaurant doing brisk business on Mother’s Day went viral.
In a tweet to President Donald Trump, the restaurant’s owners, Jesse and April Arellano, said they were standing up for America, small businesses and the Constitution, and what they claim is ‘Polis’ overreach’ in response to the outbreak.
After laying off most of their staff during the outbreak, Jesse Arellano told KCNC-TV on Sunday that they wanted to get the attention of lawmakers. He acknowledged they could face sanctions for their actions but said they wanted to know how much support they had.
‘We figured if we’re going to crash, we’re going to go down and see how many people stand with us,’ Jesse Arellano said.
Asked why he did not enforce any social distancing inside the restaurant, Jesse on Monday told KOA NewsRadio that they did “space some of the tables out,” but that “it didn’t matter.”
‘People were just coming, so there was no stopping them,’ the Castle Rock outlet owner said. ‘People wanted their freedom.’
Jesse said he did not order his employees to wear masks but asked them to wear gloves. He said he also gave his employees notice about the reopening and added that they didn’t have to come into work if they didn’t want to.
He said ‘none of the customers seemed afraid’ to be inside the restaurant.
‘Our freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins’
A sign posted outside the restaurant said, ‘ATTENTION: Our freedom doesn’t end where your fear begins…If you are afraid to be within 6 feet of another person, do not enter this business!’
There are 661 confirmed coronavirus cases in Douglas County, and 26 people have died of the virus, according to the TCHD. There are 115 cases in Castle Rock.
Restaurants in Colorado are not allowed to offer sit-down service under Polis’ latest order, but the state has allowed eateries in western Colorado’s Mesa County to open tables to customers — though only at 30 percent capacity — because of its low number of cases.
Mesa County has not had any coronavirus deaths. Douglas County, where the Castle Rock restaurant is located, is a wealthy county that is a mix of suburban and rural areas. It has had 28 deaths due to the virus, about 3 percent of the statewide count.
The restaurant’s defiance sparked backlash from many people on social media, including other local restaurant owners.
Chris Fuselier, the owner of a Denver restaurant, posted on Twitter that while he understood the owners’ financial troubles, he ‘strongly’ disagreed with their choice to ‘blatantly disregard social distancing restrictions.’
A Castle Rock resident slammed the owners and said they “put profits before people’s health and spun it as a cry for freedom.”
Should my fear be countered by your bravado?
Despite ongoing debate as to whether Jesse and April should have flouted state laws on social media, some guests took the debate to a visceral level, with video showing one armed man standing guard outside to let people going around a long line to come in.
April told Colorado Community Media that she was not concerned about the customers at her restaurant not wearing masks or practicing social distancing; she said she did not believe her restaurant would pose a public health risk.
‘We in the service industry have been taking precautions for years. … We wash and sanitize everything anyway,’ she said.
She claimed that people were ‘piling into’ retail shops.
‘So right now, I don’t really see the difference,’ she said.
Never mind most retailers enforce strict protection and distancing measures, along with the wearing of face masks – nor are visitors congregating at close quarters, openly dining and consuming food, and actively engaging with their face – with hand to mouth, nose and ear established to being the predominant route of infection.
‘And we’re human. … I know a lot of things are [run] by fear. I don’t have that fear,’ April and Jesse continued.
But should one’s legitimate fear be countered by someone else’s seemingly bravado and desire to eke out a living at the potential expense of a community?
‘And that’s our whole point … you buy marijuana but you can’t go to church. You can go to a liquor store but you can’t go eat at a restaurant. It’s crazy,’ the couple added.