SAN JOSE (KPIX) — City and county leaders warned that businesses could be shut down if they do not comply with social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines after troubling images emerged of a San Jose restaurant Friday.
“These are ordinances, these are laws, there’s penalties, including potential misdemeanor penalties for violations,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.
Cortese did not respond to a specific business but spoke in broad terms about business owners who may not be complying with county and state orders. He said the county’s district attorney’s office has been taking complaints seriously.
“They can shut down a construction site, they can shut down a restaurant, they can essentially shut down any activity,” said Cortese.
On Thursday, Chris Gouveia tweeted a photo that showed a crowd of people who were standing in line for Zazil Cocina Mexicana at Santana Row, and failing to social distance. Tables outside of the restaurant also appeared to be close together. Gouveia said his friend took the picture, which he captioned, “The curve has already bent back up and this is how it runs wild.”
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, who was mentioned in Gouevia’s tweet, retweeted the picture on Friday and wrote,”Friends, we cannot prevail over #coronavirus pandemic if we’re taking risks like this.”
Liccardo could not be reached for comment.
However, Ivan Alarcon, who said he is the business development director for Zazil spoke to KPIX and said that they did not expect the number of people who showed up to Santana Row once outdoor dining was allowed again. Alarcon said that they learned a lot the first week they reopened, and began to remove tables and chairs. He said they also hired security guards to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing.
“Our role as a business in the community is to make sure that we are following the guidelines, that we keep everybody safe,” Alarcon said. “Obviously, we need to make sure that we’re constantly on top of people.”
Gouveia’s photo was not the first time the restaurant has been accused on social media of failing to keep its patrons safe.
Several Yelp reviewers have expressed their concerns that they might become infected because of the restaurant’s tight quarters. KPIX 5’s Maria Medina also snapped a picture of the restaurant the first week that outdoor dining was allowed, which showed tables that were not six feet apart.
Councilmember Dev Davis, whose district includes Santana Row, released a statement that said “I feel for all the businesses struggling to survive right now … If we aren’t more careful, businesses may have to close again and I don’t think anyone wants that to happen.”
After the mayor’s tweet on Friday, Zazil appeared to space out its tables a little more, although KPIX observed some chairs back-to-back and many not wearing masks or social distancing in line.
Security and Alarcon began to enforce the rules for their patrons in line once they spotted the KPIX camera.
“Obviously, one of the things that we’re more concerned about is making sure we follow all the rules,” Alarcon said. “Yes, we are learning as we go, we want to make sure that we progress and not go in the other direction.”
If you see a business violating coronavirus safety guidelines, you can report them anonymously at: COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place Order Public Health Complaint