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City business leaders warn state guidelines may supersede city council decision 

‘The State and the County still retain enforcement authority to use at their discretion’

–On Friday, leaders of the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, Travel Paso, and the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance alerted local businesses that Thursday night’s action by the Paso Robles City Council may not help businesses avoid enforcement action by the State of California.

The city council unanimously voted to enforce “Purple Tier” restrictions, but not the strict Regional Stay at Home Order that took effect on Monday. The state’s order requires wineries, breweries, bars, hair salons, nail salons, and other businesses to close operations to the public. It also requires restaurants to close all indoor and outdoor seating and offer only take out or delivery.

State agencies, such as Alcohol Beverage Control, may still enforce the state orders, local business leaders warn. See their letter, issued on Friday, below:

Dear Members and Partners,

As you may have heard, after extensive public comment and discussion, the Paso Robles City Council voted last night on their intention to “maintain the purple tier restriction levels” of the State’s COVID-19 guidelines. The City Council’s direction was to emphasize education over enforcement.

However, the Council placing the City in the purple tier is an unclear action in regard to State enforcement. Please view Mayor Steve Martin’s quote below and find the City of Paso Robles press release here.

Working together in collaboration with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and Travel Paso, we have come together in an effort to clearly communicate what these actions mean.

As you know, many local businesses operate under the jurisdiction of county and state agencies – ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control), Health Department, etc. – where county and state rulings supersede local government actions. Wineries and most restaurants operate with ABC licenses and permits that allow them to sell alcohol. The ABC is under the state’s jurisdiction and, as with past orders, have communicated that they will enforce the current rules with education and voluntary compliance from businesses.

There is an implied risk that each business owner assumes if they decide to ignore a state health order. This is an exercise in risk tolerance and there could be severe consequences should authorities decide to enforce this order. We know many businesses have chosen to remain open to keep employees working, make payroll, pay bills, and serve their customers and community. Most are doing so with responsible practices including operating outdoors, physically distancing, limiting group size, and wearing masks.

This is an unfortunate and difficult situation that we find ourselves in; we know businesses have been extremely hard hit. Each business has been affected differently during this pandemic. Please act responsibly and in the best interest of our community, your business, and the safety of your employees and customers.

The State and the County still retain enforcement authority to use at their discretion. And, as the Council noted, Dr. Borenstein and the County will determine what they consider an egregious violation, one that can lead to more serious enforcement actions.

The City Council meets again on Tuesday, December 15. If you choose, please tune-in and participate to gain clarity and voice your ideas on how we as a city can approach this in an equitable manner. You are an integral part of our community and the reputation of our world-class destination.


Gina Fitzpatrick
President / CEO, Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce

Joel Peterson
Executive Director, PRWCA

Stacie Jacob
Executive Director, Travel Paso


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