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Paso Robles: The town that didn’t lock down 

Paso Robles: The town that didn't lock down

It was an exercise in COVID-era civil disobedience, magazine says

–Reason magazine is shining a national spotlight on the City of Paso Robles and how local businesses fought COVID-19 restrictions to survive. Reason reporter Christian Britschgi was assigned to Paso Robles, where many businesses defied the state’s strict orders to close. He said he enjoyed it. He also got COVID-19, he says.

The author, who spent a weekend in town, begins his 6000-word essay interviewing Brooke Johnson, a longtime resident and upstart business owner of Brunch in downtown Paso Robles. She recounts how COVID-19 restrictions started causing local businesses to suffer.

“But instead of accepting their fate, they got organized,” the story says. “Through Facebook groups and clandestine in-person meetings, a coalition of business owners decided to defy the state’s latest order and keep their town open.”

“It was an exercise in COVID-era civil disobedience. And in many ways, it worked.

“For the near two months that the regional shutdown order was in effect, Paso Robles became a bubble of quasi-normality in a state and a country still contending with reams of pandemic restrictions. The crackdown that did eventually come for Paso Robles came just days before Newsom issued a surprise retraction of his regional stay-at-home order.”

Reason magazine

Reason is a libertarian-themed magazine with the motto “Free Minds and Free Markets.” It is published monthly in the US by the Reason Foundation. The magazine has a circulation of around 50,000 and was named one of the 50 best magazines by the Chicago Tribune.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at