health order enforcement

Oakland Events Hall Owner in Legal Trouble After Defying COVID-19 Protocols

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An event hall in Oakland is in legal trouble after the city says it repeatedly ignored public health orders by hosting indoor parties, where there was zero social distancing and hardly a mask in sight. 

Now, the city has filed a restraining order against the man who runs the event space to try to get him to stop hosting parties, like a baby shower that was set for Saturday.

“It's all anti-human, we see it as satanic actually,” said David Albert Oertel, who owns an events space called Humanist Hall, about the coronavirus.

He says it’s a hoax and, “a way to destroy the mental health of the community.”

While other event halls in Alameda County have followed public health orders by saying “no” to indoor parties, Oertel says “yes” to birthday parties, baby showers and weddings. 

“We charge from 600 to 800,” he said.

A photo posted to Humanist Hall’s Facebook page on Sep. 29 shows tables and chairs set up for an indoor event, where children are seen not wearing masks.  

“There could be up to 200 in here,” Oertel said.

On Friday, an Alameda County judge sided with the city of Oakland  and signed off on a temporary restraining order, ordering Oertel to stop hosting gatherings.

“The cop came here a little while ago and he said that if we try to do something, first of all they would shut it down, after all the expense and hassle and set up and they’d take me to jail,” said Oertel. 

The month of December was set up to be a busy month for Humanist Hall, according to their website. A retirement party on the 4, a baby shower on the 11, and another baby shower on the 19, a wedding on Christmas and perhaps most surprising -- a birthday party for someone’s grandma on New Year’s Eve.

“We’re screwed,” said Oertel.  

A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “Making money from indoor gatherings during a surge of new COVID cases is reprehensible and the judge’s order should be enforced to the fullest extent of the law if the Hall continues to host more gatherings.” 

Oertel’s court date is on Dec. 15.

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