San Mateo County is suing a Pacifica yoga studio for ignoring COVID-19 public health orders and holding indoor “mask-free” classes, county officials said Thursday.
Judge Danny Chou granted a temporary restraining order Thursday afternoon requiring Pacifica Beach Yoga, at 1615 Oceana Boulevard, to close immediately.
The county filed the suit Jan. 14 in the San Mateo County Superior Court, alleging the studio stayed open and did not require face masks, despite state restrictions that require indoor fitness centers to close and public health orders that require masks to be worn in public.
The suit comes after multiple visits from the county’s COVID-19 business compliance team, which seeks to educate businesses about COVID-19 restrictions and allow voluntary compliance.
However, the studio’s owner refused to comply with health orders, leaving the county with no other choice, San Mateo County Counsel John Beiers said in a statement.
“Our community rightly expects that when its state government imposes shelter-in-place laws, those laws will be enforced justly and equitably to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules,” Beiers said. “Pacifica Beach Yoga has repeatedly, knowingly and flagrantly decided not to follow the rules that other businesses in this county are following. That is dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue.”
The county’s suit seeks an order for the owner to comply with health orders, halt operations until fitness centers are allowed to reopen and pay fines from administrative citations.
Pacifica Beach Yoga declined to comment for this story, but classes appear to be cancelled through Feb. 7, according to the studio’s website.
Since late October, the county has received 26 online complaints alleging that Pacifica Beach Yoga was violating health orders.
Following the complaints, the county’s business compliance team visited the studio, then issued a warning and several administrative citations — starting with a $250 citation on Nov. 14 — that now total $3,750.
Under an urgency ordinance adopted by county supervisors last August, businesses can be fined up to $3,000 for COVID-19 health violations, such as not requiring people to wear a face mask.
David Canepa, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said the county’s message is simple and clear: “wear your damn masks or risk having your business close.”
“Let this be a lesson to all other business owners who refuse to obey the law, and there are many, that if you violate the law, you will be punished,” Canepa said. “It’s not about you, it’s about everyone around you, including your friends, your loved ones and the people you don’t even know who you come in contact with.”
A hearing is set for Feb. 4, when the court will evaluate whether the injunction against the yoga studio needs to continue.
Pacifica Beach Yoga is the first business being sued in court for violating health orders in the county.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said the county had received a total of 1,170 complaints about businesses violating health orders and 82% have been addressed. The county has issued 120 written warnings and 28 citations to repeat violators, for a total of $29,250 in fines.
To report a business violation online, visit https://cmo.smcgov.org/health-order-violation-reporting-appeals-businesses.
View the press release about the suit at https://cmo.smcgov.org/press-release/jan-21-2020-county-san-mateo-sues-pacifica-beach-yoga-over-repeated-covid-19-health.
San Mateo County is currently under a regional stay-at-home order and in the widespread risk or purple tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which restricts many businesses from operating indoors. To view what businesses and activities are allowed, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/ and type in “San Mateo.”