Orange County Officials Cracking Down on Businesses Open During Pandemic

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
April 2, 2020Updated: April 2, 2020

SANTA ANA (CNS)—Code enforcement officers have been dispatched to several golf courses and a tennis club in southern Orange County that have refused to close during the stay-at-home COVID-19 order.

“The Aliso Viejo (Country) Club is allowing members to walk the course. They’re not taking this seriously,” Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said. “We actually got complaint calls from neighbors asking why is a golf course open, why is a tennis club open?”

Bartlett said the clubs cannot remain open because there are too many “touch points” and it would be too difficult to ensure adequate social distancing and sanitizing at such recreational facilities.

Bartlett, who has been helping in efforts to acquire more personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, said she was “livid” that the complaints of non-essential businesses “going rogue … was sucking up so much of our time.”

Three public golf courses in San Clemente voluntarily shut down on March 31 after issues were raised about why they were continuing to remain open.

But there are two private golf courses in Coto de Caza that remain open and have even advertised events such as “Pasta Night” and “Wok-O Taco Night” and an April 12 Easter brunch.

Messages left with the golf course operator were not immediately returned. A representative of the tennis club in Coto de Caza hung up on a reporter.

After questions were raised earlier this week about the Los Alamitos Race Course remaining open, county officials contacted the operators and it was closed to the public, but horse racing will continue there.

“I’m going to start calling them one by one and tell them they’re being the poster child for bad behavior,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett emphasized, however, that “most of the businesses out there that are non-essential have been in compliance and I greatly appreciate that. They’re wanting to do the socially responsible thing.”

Bartlett said COVID-19 is an international pandemic, “a virus that’s killing people. For these entities to be out there operating and putting members and guests and the public at-large at risk to me is just incredulous.”

Board Chairwoman Michelle Steel on March 31 downplayed the significance of golf courses remaining open.

“We can’t really be shutting down everything here … We’re going to the market, we’re using the cart and everything. This is people’s personal responsibility (to adhere to social distancing recommendations),” she said during the board’s regular meeting.

Each of us are personally responsible to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The Board of Supervisors on April 7 will likely tackle some sort of policy proposal regarding the operation of non-essential businesses during the pandemic.

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