Mariposa County Residents Doubt Following the New Coronavirus Restriction

Despite the new lockdown covering much of Sierra foothills, Steve’s Sportsmans Cafe observed little changes with his business this week.

The store owner, 60-year-old Steve Knauf, has stated that he had enough of Sacramento’s shutdown orders. His small restaurant in Mariposa County continues to serve up braised beef ribs and chicken-fried steak to its customers. Knauf also assumed that the regulation only attempts to scare people from nothing.

Knauf is not alone with his opinions on the new COVID-19 measure. In San Joaquin Valley’s 12 counties, rural areas also voiced their criticisms against the stay-at-home order. On Monday, the state has announced that all businesses should halt operations due to a significant spike in new cases. The ruling exempts essential services from the restrictions, such as hospitals and grocery stores. After several months of shifting regulations, the new order only stirred frustrations among the general public.

Public officials explained that the backlash would only make it harder for the state to stop and contain the spread of infections. The defiance against the new order only grows more in the Bay Area and Southern California, even as nationwide cases continue to rise in alarming numbers. 

In Mariposa County, several places operate like how they did last year – before the pandemic struck. The Gold-rush era town has spots not adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Social distancing is optional, restaurants and stores observe limited measures, and masks are scarce.

Airport Inn Bar and Grill owner Robbie Nelson revealed that her patrons do not wish to shut down her business, and neither is she. The 68-year-old Mariposa resident runs her restaurant on Wednesday, with many people not wearing face masks despite the place’s full customer capacity.

After a long time of playing by the state’s health protocols, Nelson and her husband began following the measures these past couple of weeks. They conduct temperature checks on their customers before seating them and even impose an outdoor dining ban.

Several months after Mariposa County suffered severe economic downfalls, Nelson had enough of the continuous restriction changes. The latest stay-at-home order would not stop her from operating her business. Nelson doesn’t wish for her finances to spiral down in the middle of a pandemic. She cried when a county official visited her on Sunday, telling her to close on-site service.

Nelson has decided not to comply with the new regulation. She declared that her restaurant would continue to offer dining services to her customers.

County Health Officials Encourage People to Abide by the New Guidelines

However, not everyone feels the same way as Nelson. Mariposa County health officer Eric Sergienko has expressed his disagreement on the matter.

Case numbers kept rising across the state, despite Marin County reporting little to no infections among its 18,000 inhabitants. The district only relies upon neighboring San Joaquin Valley’s hospitals for emergency health responses, with its ICU capacity nearing its limit. The most recent reports revealed that the 12-county region only has 5.6% intensive care unit beds available for new COVID-19 patients.

Despite Sergienko’s acknowledgment of people’s worries with the new order, he still urges everyone to follow the state’s guidelines. This week, he even instructed county workers to hand out face masks to customers in a grocery store.

According to Sergienko, the county’s repeated attempts to educate people about the situation is not enough to make them all comply with the restrictions. He even revealed his observations of multiple people not wearing masks around the place. Enforcement is also not that strict across the region.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office disclosed that it doesn’t have the means to deal with people violating the coronavirus protocols. A few of San Joaquin Valley’s law enforcement agencies also shared the same sentiment.