SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Business owners reportedly broke into the Sacramento County supervisor’s office Tuesday while a meeting was underway to protest proposed fines on businesses that don’t comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
The chairman of the board called a 10-minute recess and moved the meeting to a different room to get away from the protesters who had been banging on the doors, which were closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Just as outgoing Director of Sacramento County Health Services Dr. Peter Beilenson stepped up to the podium, the doors busted open.
Dr. Beilenson was about to present an ordinance that would have allowed law enforcement, emergency services, county code and health enforcement officers to fine both people and businesses that defy the county health order. The fines range from $250 up to $10,000 every day.
#BREAKING Business owners broke through Sac Supervisor chambers doors – closed for covid restrictions – to protest proposed new fines for covid restriction non-compliance. Cops called. pic.twitter.com/kujqlypaNG
— stevelarge (@largesteven) December 8, 2020
Ultimately the bill was pulled from the agenda and changed. County health officials say if it’s presented, it will be based on reducing large gatherings, and not fining businesses.
Dr. Beilenson said, “For people who are listening or standing on the line, we are pulling the bill from this hearing and bringing it back in the next few weeks, and it will be addressing gatherings enforcement against gatherings rather than businesses.”
In a statement, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost acknowledged the protests and said she was glad the ordinance was being reconsidered.
“I will continue to push for efforts to increase outreach and education to businesses so that we can work on gaining compliance with a helping hand, rather than with threatening policies,” Frost wrote.
With fewer than 20 enforcement officials on staff, how would the county enforce and shut down these large gatherings? County leaders say anyone the county designates could issue citations but since the ordinance is still under review. They don’t yet know the number of resources they’d need.
People have been banned inside the chambers for months to curtail the spread of coronavirus, but on Tuesday about 30 people made their way inside, holding signs, some calling the virus a hoax, others calling for first amendment rights. Organizers said it is their right to make their voices heard.
Gabrielle Ingram said, “A lot of people here are business owners people are going into bankruptcy, people are struggling to feed their families.”
Police were called to respond to the interruption. It’s unknown if anyone was arrested.
More from CBS Sacramento: