By Anna Giles

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — A battle to stay off the state watch list is brewing in El Dorado County. County leaders have vowed to crack down as coronavirus cases surge in South Lake Tahoe.

Some business owners fear the worst.

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“Closing again. Scared,” said Michel Chonez, who owns a souvenir shop in South Lake Tahoe.

El Dorado County supervisors said they don’t want that to happen, but people need to step up to the plate by social distancing and wearing a mask. The county health officer is skeptical about this being doable.

“I am worried about us being too casual about it and leaving too much of the personal responsibility in people’s hands. Because it’s not shown to be very effective that way,” said Nancy Williams, the El Dorado County Health Officer.

During an emergency meeting Thursday, county licensing authorities were given the power to suspend the health permits of businesses that flagrantly defy state guidelines.

“I don’t want to drive them out of business. I don’t want to over-regulate, but I do want to do as much as we can to help them get in the right posture, operating processes,” said John Hidahl, an El Dorado County supervisor.

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The fear is getting put on the state watch list. Other counties on the list right now have gone back to closing bars and indoor dining at restaurants.

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El Dorado County’s crackdown comes as public officials and businesses already deal with constant push back

“The more restrictions we get, the more back pressure we receive that it’s totally unreasonable and why would anyone pay any attention to any of it,” Hidahl said.

Some people have outright refused to wear a mask.

“We’ve actually asked people to leave the shop to the point where someone got so mad, they said something nasty on Yelp to pay me back,” Chonez said.

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County leaders said their new enforcement is focused on repeat offenders. They said right now they have about a dozen businesses on their list that fit this category.