A popular bar and restaurant in Pacific Beach was shut down indefinitely by the county Friday after videos surfaced on social media showing some patrons mingling shoulder to shoulder and without face coverings.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said several instances of noncompliance with the public health order were reported Thursday, the first day restaurants were allowed to reopen their doors to dine-in customers.
“One of the most egregious of these examples is the El Prez restaurant,” Supervisor Fletcher said at Friday’s public health briefing.
“They didn’t do the basic things we’re asking folks to do,” he explained. “It created an imminent health and safety risk. The actions you saw in the video can trigger an outbreak and compromise our ability as a county to move further along in the state’s reopening plan.”
Fletcher further described Thursday’s scene at El Prez as troubling, and a “blatant disregard for the public health orders and blatant noncompliance.”
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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also made an example out of El Prez at his daily public briefing, calling the scene there unacceptable. The mayor cautioned that similar shut down orders would be issued to other non-complying establishments.
El Prez issued a statement on its Facebook page that read in part, "We believed we were following guidelines, but we were wrong. Simply, everything spiraled out of control." The post was deleted shortly after.
San Diego Police Department officers shut down the restaurant Friday afternoon on the county’s orders.
SDPD Captain Bernie Colon told NBC 7 restaurant staff was willing to make the necessary business model changes that would keep them in line with the public health order.
“We’re working with our different agencies to make sure they have a solid plan to present moving forward to the county to get approval,” Captain Colon said.
For now, the restaurant is closed until further notice.
“They will have the chance to meet health officials to go over their revised plans on how they will reopen and ensure compliance to make sure nothing like this happens again,” Fletcher said.
No other restaurants in the neighborhood were ordered to shut down, according to Colon.
SDPD Chief David Nisleit said police and compliance officers would be in beach communities all weekend making sure restaurants are following the rules.