Responding to business health violators can be harder than you think.

As someone with pre-existing health issues, I’m more aware about taking steps to avoid COVID-19. I appreciate California not lifting any stay-at-home restrictions until the facts warrant it.

Some protest by hosting large parties at homes or businesses. I read about them in social media posts by connections furious at what they see. Public agencies have asked people to dial 311 to report parties. In some cases, the media finds you because of your elected office, as California treasurer Fiona Ma found out recently.

Some have protested in public to the point where some may face charges. Others express the same sentiments on social media. In those cases, it’s easy to remove connections. And when I see a well known person espousing these views, I never buy any of their creations again.

Did You Hear About COVID-19?

With businesses, it may not be as easy to respond. For example, Amazon is convenient, but news stories about their bad treatment of employees continually appear. It may be easier to cut back Amazon purchases than to stop entirely. That may be the only option if you’re in a rural area (like me) without other good choices.

It’s harder to report local businesses that flout the rules. I found that out when I saw a local business doing just that.

Responding to business health violators may need its own screening tool

On April 15, I drove to a local restaurant to pick up dinner. I was astonished to find there was a wine tasting going on in the parking lot.

The restaurant promoted a special that day and wine was part of the deal. I expected people to pick up a bottle when they got food from the pickup window.

What I didn’t expect was people milling around, talking in close groups without masks on, and behaving as if there was no pandemic. As far as I know, this wine tasting was never advertised.

Only one other person in the parking lot was wearing a mask besides me. She was picking up food as well. I did my best to keep my distance from others waiting for my food. And I didn’t go anywhere near the wine tasting area.

Different Responses for Different Businesses

My county doesn’t have a 311 system. So, I sent an e-mail note to the county public health department. They didn’t reply. I also sent a private Facebook message to the local newspaper. The editor told me that he would talk to the owner privately so I wouldn’t need to be involved.

In hindsight, that was a good idea. There are some in my community who have protested about the restrictions. And the restaurant is a famous landmark. I expect people would be hostile and seek to do me harm in one way or another. I think the paper’s staff knew this. And I suspect that my complaint wasn’t the only one.

I may never know if my reports made any difference. Yet I can still respond: I won’t go back to that restaurant for a long while. If ever.

How do you respond to business health violators, if at all?

Stay safe, and please don’t inject or ingest disinfectants.

Eric Butow is owner of Butow Communications Group and keeper of this blog. Please leave a comment if you’re so inclined.