CONTRA COSTA COUNTY — After allegations surfaced that some restaurants in Contra Costa County are defying COVID-19 rules an East Bay lawmaker is pressing for stricter enforcement.

The question of checking vaccine cards at the door has met with some pushback in the county, most notably, the protracted fight about In-N-Out dining rooms.

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In the wake of the burger brouhaha, one Contra Costa County supervisor says she’s disappointed that despite 80 complaints in the month of November, no fines were levied against restaurants not complying, a decision apparently made by junior staffers.

“It’s just unacceptable that some staff members made a decision on their own, without getting permission to not do what they are supposed to be doing,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who says she was tipped off about the situation Friday.

Supervisor Mitchoff says it is in direct connection to the In-N-Out situation in October and health staffers fearing retribution.

“I was told that the staff was concerned about death threats. I take that very seriously. I understand that. I’ve received death threats, but you weigh that against the public good,” Mitchoff said. “What’s so upsetting that they did not sit down with those higher in their chain of command and say this is what we’re hearing and we need to figure out how we deal with this.”

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Contra County County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano says that fines are levied as a last resort and that the goal is education and voluntary compliance.

“There has been no official change in policy on our approach to enforcement of the vaccine verification order,” said Dr. Farnitano.

There are three restaurants and chains in Contra Costa County out of 1600 that are at the center of the current controversy. Dr. Farnitano says they are going through the same process as In-N-Out.

“We used a similar approach with them. We began with an educational approach and tried to work with staff and it was only after there was clear, repeated, refusal to comply with the health order – first fines were issued and after continued non-compliance a permit was removed,” said Dr. Farnitino.

Mitchoff says this about everyone doing their part.

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“This is a health crisis. We are all in this together. I know we’ve heard that over and over – but we are not going to get ahead of the curve if people don’t comply.”