Pacific Beach's El Prez shut down for violating health orders

Posted at 2:36 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 12:58:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Pacific Beach restaurant and bar was closed by the county on Friday after reportedly violating the county's health orders ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

El Prez was shut down by the county health department for violating health orders, San Diego Police on scene told 10News reporter Leah Pezzetti. SDPD served the county's order.

The restaurant and bar is now pending approval to reopen by the county health department. SDPD Captain Bernie Colon says that El Prez is willing to follow health orders and working to come up with a plan to reopen.

RELATED: What to know: Health orders alter Memorial Day for San Diego beaches, restaurants, retail

El Prez's management sent 10News the following statement:

"The re-opening of restaurants is a new territory for us all and with it brings a difficult learning curve. We learned that yesterday.

While we believed we were in compliance with Governor Newsom’s 12-page mandate for re-opening restaurants, after yesterday’s experience on our first day of re-opening we now know that we need to take even greater measures to ensure that our customers, employees and community are safe.

We’re grateful to be working with local officials and law enforcement on how to best move forward in the safest manner possible. We ask our patrons to help us respect and adapt to these mandatory rules. We recognize there will be a learning curve for them, too.

The following are some of our new protocols we will be enforcing. And if these don’t work, then we’ll continue to pivot as necessary to ensure we’re doing the best we can, putting the safety of our customers, employees and community at the forefront.

  • We will have two separate lines to enter the restaurant. One will be for our rooftop and the other will be for our main level. The lines will be organized outside the restaurant and we will have 6’ markers to delineate where customers can stand. There will be no more lines on the main level. And we will have a security guard to remind guests to stand at least six feet of distance between parties and that masks must be worn at all times.
  • All patrons must be served at tables. The tables will be socially distant from each other. There is no standing room inside the restaurant.
  • We will bring on additional staff to ensure masks are worn at all times. If customers do not wear their masks, we will, unfortunately, have to ask them to leave.
  • We will increase signage throughout the restaurant notifying customers of the county’s and state rules. All rules must be complied with or customers will be asked to leave."

Thursday was the first full day that San Diego County had loosened public health orders to allow for in-person dining at restaurants with restrictions.

During Friday's county COVID-19 press conference, San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said hours after the county loosened orders around dine-in restaurants, officials saw "very troubling and very concerning instances of blatant disregard for the pubic health order and blatant non-compliance."

Fletcher then pointed specifically to El Prez.

"One of the most egregious of these examples was the El Prez restaurant located in the Pacific Beach area," Fletcher said, before playing a video showing the bar packed with guests, many not wearing masks or physically distancing.

"This facility is now closed. This facility will remain closed until further notice," Fletcher added. "The actions that you just saw in the video before you can trigger an outbreak and compromise our ability as a county to move farther along in the state's reopening plan.

"We simply cannot let one bad actor ruin it for everyone."

Later Friday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer added, "The same thing will happen for businesses that operate with a flagrant disregard for others."

Restaurants can find that guidance here, which includes protocols around distancing tables and wearing masks.

Police did not say if any other restaurants were set to be closed for similar violations.