Gym owner charged criminally rallies town against ‘COVID-19 police’

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San Diego Union Tribune:

Peter San Nicolas says he’ll donate GoFundMe donations to the California Constitutional Rights Foundation, run by two former judges who have both been censured

RAMONA, California— 

In the days after he became the first San Diego County business owner criminally charged for defying coronavirus-related health orders, Ramona gym owner Peter San Nicolas took to Facebook to decry the “Covid police” treating business owners “like common criminals.”

On Tuesday night, San Nicolas held an informal town hall-style meeting outside the Ramona Fitness Center for himself and other business owners to voice their frustrations with state and local shutdown orders.

The meeting came eight days after San Nicolas learned that San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan had charged him with five misdemeanors — each punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000 — for refusing to shut down his gym.

At the rally, where about 90 percent of the few dozen attendees wore masks, the business owners shared experiences of closing, or being on the brink, due to the pandemic.

Their message was that owners of gyms, salons, restaurants and other small businesses should be trusted to stay open and keep their customers and employees safe, just like grocery stores and big-box retailers.

Catheren Murray, San Nicolas’ mother-in-law, told the crowd that she has permanently closed Busy Bee Preschool and Day Care Center, which her mother founded in 1981.

“I’ve been there 39 years, and the sad thing is, this whole COVID took down our school,” Murray said as she fought back tears.

Read more at the San Diego Union Tribune

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