El Cajon Businesses reopen, engaged in “constitutionally protected, peaceful protest”

Written by Michael Palomba

Over 350 businesses throughout the county are open, and they’re prepared to sue if any government agency tries to shut them down. They are part of what is being called “a constitutionally protected, peaceful protest.”

With Governor Newsom’s crippling shutdown order in place, many business owners have to make the decision to close their doors permanently or defy the state’s orders and reopen now.

One of the cities at the forefront of the movement to reopen is El Cajon. El Cajon is one of the only cities in San Diego County in which the mayor has come out and announced that he will not use the city’s police force to enforce COVID-19 restrictions.

According to Mayor Bill Wells, most municipalities were already not giving citations for COVID related offenses. He said he decided to speak up because “people were feeling hopeless.”

He continued, “I felt like I had to reach out to them and say, hey, you’re not crazy, it’s not ridiculous to ask questions, it’s not ridiculous to be concerned about this. And there’s other people who feel like you do.”

When questioned about the movement to silence people who have concerns about the shutdowns, Wells said “that is completely the wrong way to handle something like that.” He went on to discuss the “monumental” financial and mental effects that people must endure as a result of the lockdown. “… not only business-wise, but people are losing their lives through suicide, drug addiction and overdose…” In addition to increases in suicide and drug usage, depression, anxiety, and domestic violence incidents have all been on the rise as a result of strict lockdown policies.

It still remains unknown when businesses will be able to reopen legally. The state has extended the most recent stay at home order for Southern California until it’s ICU capacity reaches 15% or better, and we don’t know when exactly that will be. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a recent press briefing that ICU capacity isn’t getting better. “We essentially are projecting that the ICU capacity is not improving in Southern California and San Joaquin Valley, and that demand will continue to exceed capacity.”