Since Public Health officers started cracking down on nonessential businesses, they’ve had to force one local gym to shut down.
“To date, Kern County Public Health has received over 300 complaints and has responded to over 150 complaints of local businesses that remain open despite the governor’s order,” said Michelle Corson during Monday’s press conference.
Public Health first gave these businesses written notices asking them to close.
They have also since launched a map where the public can report nonessential businesses that are noncompliant.
Finally, Public Health threatened jail time and fines of up to $1,000 for businesses that insisted on staying open.
When Strength and Health Gym on 21st Street still refused to close, Public Health issued its first citation.
“I pretty much made a commitment that I would hold my ground and not close until such a time that the police actually got involved,” said gym owner Mark Pacheco.
On Friday morning, Bakersfield Police came through their back door telling everyone to get out.
Pacheco received several misdemeanor charges for health and safety violations.
“It’s unfortunate now that I’ve been criminalized as a result of this,” Pacheco said.
He believes all of this is unfair.
On Facebook, he calls coronavirus a hoax and compares Public Health’s measures to Nazi Germany’s.
“(Coronavirus) is so in-vogue right now. Regardless of all the science and research, I think very little is known about this,” he said.
In the meantime, Pacheco says he’ll put membership payments on hold.
However, he says he does not regret staying open, and he does not think he jeopardized anyone’s well-being.
“This is a private place. The people who are here took it upon their own volition to come here and utilize the facility,” he said.
He added, “it’s not about how much I care or don’t care. It’s about what my belief system is, and I happen to have made the decision that I don’t put as much credence into (coronavirus) as a lot of people do.”
If you want to report a noncompliant business, you can visit kernpublichealth.com.
You can also call Public Health at 321-3000.