The Coast News Group

Oceanside councilman urges businesses to reopen, violate health orders

OCEANSIDE — The city is reminding its businesses that they still need to follow the county’s health orders after a lone councilmember began encouraging non-essential businesses to open immediately.

Councilmember Chris Rodriguez released a letter on May 9 that encourages businesses labeled non-essential to open immediately.

For the last month, Rodriguez has been pushing for the reopening of Oceanside businesses.

In late April, Council sent a letter to San Diego County Health and Human Services Officer Wilma J. Wooten demanding that the county amend its public health order to allow local agencies to decide when beaches, parks, harbor and local businesses can open.

Under the county’s new public health orders issued at the beginning of May, cities can decide when to reopen beaches and parks. The county also revised the health order to allow certain businesses to open, which includes retail with curbside or delivery services only, related logistics and manufacturing.

In his letter, Rodriguez claims that the State and County governments don’t and haven’t had a plan to reopen businesses. He also claims that Gov. Gavin Newsom chose “a political pathway lacking of science, common sense and constitutional precedent” when issuing the stay-at-home order, and believes that the constitutional rights of Oceanside residents and businesses have been “trampled upon.”

“If your business has been labeled ‘non-essential’ and you share my convictions, then I encourage you to open immediately and please follow all social distancing, face mask and sterilization protocols that essential businesses and employees are currently following,” Rodriguez said in his letter.

Rodriguez called for residents to “safely patronize” businesses and “to also practice county health recommendations of social distancing and face masks when practical.” He also called for houses of worship to open again as well.

Mayor Peter Weiss issued a letter in response to Rodriguez’s letter that distanced the city from the councilmember’s position.

“That letter reflects the opinion of the author and not the official position of the City,” Weiss said in his letter

The letter also reminds businesses that they remain subject to the San Diego County Health Officer’s orders regarding business operations.

“Neither the City Council, nor individual Councilmembers have the authority to direct any business to violate the County Orders,” Weiss wrote.

Rodriguez also stated in his letter that “many county sheriffs and police chiefs” in California have publicly refused to make arrests and enforce health orders due to their beliefs that the orders are unconstitutional.

“The Police Department will ensure that the Oceanside business community is following the Health Order guidelines, and those failing to comply with the Health Order will be subject to appropriate enforcement,” Weiss responded in his letter.

The mayor also urged residents to refer to the city, county and state websites for “accurate guidance” regarding the COVID-19 pandemic health orders.