Some local restaurants keep indoor dining open in violation of state's orders

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- House of JuJu in Old Town Clovis may be closed for Presidents Day, but it is back to business Tuesday.

The restaurant has defied the governor's orders for several months now - serving people indoors.

Co-owner Julie Glenn says it's the only way she and her employees could survive.

"Your business isn't going to prosper. It is not about that. It is about keeping your employees employed, letting them feed their children because their job is essential to them," Glenn says.

Glenn says safety measures are in place and they're operating at 50% capacity.

Her decision was only made easier when state and local health officials, couldn't provide data proving spread occurs at restaurants.

"When your own health department can't provide the data that says why you should be closed, there are many of us who have chosen to stay open," she says.

Other businesses in Fresno County are also following House of JuJu's lead.

In the City of Fresno, councilman Mike Karbassi says enforcement has changed, since the city is at risk of losing 30% of its restaurants.

"We are no longer proactively enforcing our restaurants and we haven't been for a few months. If somebody complains, we have an obligation to investigate," he says.

Karbassi says this is part of the Business is Essential to Local Economies Act passed in September.

He says fines will only be given to egregious violators.

"If a restaurant, for example, crowds people or violates a mask policy and the staff isn't wearing masks handling food, then there may be a health and safety fine for that kind of a thing," he says.

Karbassi says the Alcoholic Beverage Control Department can still take action by taking away an establishment's liquor license.

This is why Glenn voluntarily gave hers up when she reopened the House of JuJu.

"That is the one thing the state had holding over our heads, so we handed that back to them," she says.

Fresno County officials say they're leaving it up to each individual city to enforce the state's orders how they see fit.
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