DA not inclined to follow up with state ABC on citations issued to Kern restaurants during pandemic

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The businesses most outwardly and obviously affected by pandemic related shutdowns have been, without much doubt, restaurants and bars. In California, as in most states, those businesses have been viewed as prolific potential incubators for the virus — and as a result have been closed or restricted to outdoor service.

One of the state agencies tasked with enforcement of those restrictions has been Alcoholic Beverage Control, which has visited more than100 Kern County businesses with state-issued liquor licenses and since July has issued 14 citations to those businesses, including two in Bakersfield just last month — Chuy’s and the Pour House.

In nine of those 14 cases the ABC has asked the Kern County District Attorney’s office to prosecute alleged violations. So far, however, the DA has not acted. DA Cynthia Zimmer cites a handful of reasons, not the least is which is the sudden, recent spike in violent crime.

“2020 was our most violent years,” she said, “so our resources really were taken up with homicides, sex crimes, child abuse.”

John Carr of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control says his agency is undaunted.

“The good news is that it looks like the number of cases is dropping, more vaccines are getting out, so all of us, I think, are in a safer place today than we were previously,” he said. “But there’s a lot to be done. So ABC is going to continue to visit locations and check on compliance and if businesses are not compliant and working within the framework that’s been set before them in the health orders, then ABC will have to move forward with action.”

With the pandemic showing some signs of easing up, special restrictions for restaurants and bars may eventually be a thing of the past. But we’re not there yet. And even when we get there, what may happen to these alleged violators isn’t yet clear.

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