Elected Officials, Business Owners, and Residents push back against COVID lockdowns in San Diego

Written by Sebastian Acosta

Reopen San Diego organized a protest this week. Hundreds of elected officials, business owners, and residents gathered near San Diego’s Waterfront Park on Monday in opposition to the forced closure of restaurants, churches, and other small businesses. County Supervisor Jim Desmond, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, and Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey were among those who spoke at the event.

“This is not a choice between opening up businesses or saving lives,” Desmond said. “We can do both.”

He spoke of the unfairness of punishing businesses that follow sanitation guidelines and social distance protocols, especially given that in San Diego County, bars and restaurants consistently make up less than 10 percent of locations that residents claim to have visited in the two weeks before catching COVID-19. Gyms and places of worship make up .04 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. 

Instead, it appears that commutes to work and congregations at home are together responsible for more than 60 percent of locations people told contact tracers they visited before getting sick.

Wells has been a constant and outspoken critic of both state and county orders aimed at shutting down businesses, calling them examples of government overreach. He has popularly claimed that he would not punish businesses that defy those orders. 

“It’s time for the government to stop trying to criminalize people who just want to keep their businesses open, send their kids to school, protect the constitution of the United States,” Wells said on Monday. 

The overwhelming majority of business owners need their doors open to feed their families and pay their bills; and employees need their jobs to do just the same. The closure of businesses should not be a political issue, but when one party touts closing down the economy as the only solution to the pandemic and refuses to heed the frustrations of those that are affected by such a strategy, it should not come as a surprise to see the other party become the voice of the unheard. 

Since the start of the crisis, Democrats have been the former party, and Republicans have consistently been the latter. That is a trend that will continue into 2021, especially if Joe Biden wins the presidency. On several occasions he has said that he will “shut it down,” if that’s what the scientists told him to do.