Contra Costa County is getting hit with a lawsuit as businesses angry over the new shut down order fight back.

“I’m feeling very stressed. It’s beyond depressing at this point,” said Retro Junkie owner Enrique Montero. “It’s beyond a roller coaster ride, it’s like the twilight zone.”

Montero says shutting down his outdoor seating area has left him unable to generate an income. While he won’t violate the shutdown order, he’s not sitting back. 

“We just feel we can’t sit around and have our livelihoods taken away without a fight,” said Montero.

He is one of four Bay Area businesses now suing Contra Costa County. They filed the lawsuit Friday morning alleging there’s no proof outdoor dining has contributed to the COVID-19 surge. 

“Because of the lack of evidence in closing down outdoor dining activities I think the county should be mandated to open them up as soon as possible and let these people who built these businesses continue to make a living,” said provisional attorney Nathan Dondi.

Now three Bay Area doctors who work at John Muir Hospital are adding their voice to the mix. In an open letter to the county health officer they questioned the shut down order writing, “We are confused as to why this is happening as we are often overcapacity in our hospitals and ICUs every winter and we have never done this previously.”

But the health department says COVID-19 cases have tripled in Contra Costa County, in a statement they replied, “It’s illogical to look at what happened at hospitals in prior years to predict what we can expect now. In years past, we weren’t dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”

The county declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Montero is hopeful a judge will side with restaurants and allow outdoor dining to resume. 

“We feel we have followed the guidelines and the rug has been pulled from underneath us,” said Montero.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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