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Restaurant owners frustrated as some businesses continue outdoor dining

Restaurants in some valley cities are remaining open following the announcement from the Riverside County Sheriff that stay-at-home orders will not be enforced, while other businesses play by the rules.

News Channel 3 has heard from many of our viewers about restaurants on El Paseo packed with customers, going against the state's orders. Some restaurant owners who have closed their outdoor dining say that isn't fair.

"My problem is there's no enforcement of these rules," said Jack Srebnik, who owns two Rancho Mirage restaurants. "By having no enforcement, people are doing what they want; they choose to open or not open."

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco slammed Governor Newsom earlier this month, saying his department would not enforce the new restrictions.

"These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat out ridiculous," Bianco said in a pre-recorded video.

Srebnik said he's frustrated seeing seeing neighboring businesses continue to serve customers. Although his businesses are within the jurisdiction of the Sheriff's department, he's only offering takeout and delivery.

"I'm just going by integrity – we're told to do this," he said. "I feel bad for my staff because they're not making money right now and I feel bad for the people that have total disregard for other people's health."

Meanwhile in Palm Springs, the police and code compliance departments are enforcing the orders, leaving restaurants there with no choice.

"It feels like here in Palm Springs, it's all on our shoulders to basically stop the spread," said Mindy Reed, a downtown Palm Springs restaurant owner. She says her business has dropped by 95 percent since the new closure, sometimes making as little as $300 per night.

"I'm losing money every day that I'm open; I'm only staying open because I have employees that are dreamers, I have employees that are immigrants," Reed said. "Because of some of those factors they cant get unemployment."

While these restaurant owners may not agree with the restrictions, they hope to see more people working together to get through the pandemic.

"If wearing a mask and not having people eat at the restaurant is going to help us, then let's do it," Srebnik said.

We reached out to some of the restaurants that remain open for comment. They did not immediately respond.

We have learned the city of Palm Desert held an emergency meeting closed to the public, as they prepare a program to bring businesses into compliance with health orders. That's expected to be presented at a meeting on Dec. 22.

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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