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Palm Springs restaurant owner issued $5,000 fine for reopening indoor dining in ‘peaceful protest’ of coronavirus mandate


News Channel 3 was there Wednesday as a Palm Springs Police officer and a code enforcement officer showed up at La Bonita's Mexican Restaurant on Palm Canyon Drive.

The officials issued a five thousand dollar fine to restaurant owner Alex Raei.

Raei was serving customers indoors during the lunch hour today. He called his choice to invite diners inside a "peaceful protest" against the current mandate prohibiting indoor dining in Riverside County.

Diners are seated indoors at La Bonita Restaurant in Palm Springs against the current coronavirus pandemic mandate to dine outdoors only.

Raei told News Channel 3 that if he doesn't reopen his indoor dining area, he won't be able to stay in business. "It's a must for me to keep my business afloat."

"Everyone is an adult, they can make their own decisions.  If they don't want to agree with it or if they are worried about getting the virus or high risk health, don't come here, or sit outside."

Alex Raei, Owner of La Bonita's Mexican Restaurant

Check out our previous stories on La Bonita's

News Channel 3 learned earlier in the day that Raei was planning to reopen for indoor dining, despite the ongoing ban on indoor restaurant service in response to Covid-19. The owner, who runs the business with his mother and other family members, had previously reported experiencing financial struggles as a result of closing the business to comply with state and county orders. He's operated La Bonita's for about five years.

A post made Wednesday afternoon on the restaurant's Facebook page read, "We are forced to comply with the City of Palm Springs Code enforcement and PSPD so outside dining and take out is all we can offer.
Thank you to all our positive supporters.
Faith over Fear"

A previous post invited people to join in the "peaceful protest" as the restaurant offered dine-in service. The message promised social distancing and a 25% capacity limit.

MORE: I-Team takes firsthand look at coronavirus code compliance efforts in Palm Springs

In August, the News Channel 3 I-Team rode along with Code Enforcement officers in Palm Springs to show you firsthand what is being done to enforce compliance with coronavirus mandates.

You can watch that story in the player below.

WATCH: I-Team takes firsthand look at coronavirus code compliance efforts in Palm Springs

The I-Team has continued to track coronavirus pandemic restrictions, even reviewing the weekly code compliance reports.

City officials say most people and businesses have cooperated with the order, but if you would like to make a complaint you can call the "code enforcement hotline" at 760-778-8434.

You can find continued coverage on the Coronavirus Pandemic here:

Coronavirus / Economy / News Headlines / Top Stories

Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

KESQ News Team


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