Thanksgiving Crackdown: 181 Santa Clara County Stores Fined in Virus Protocol

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Santa Clara County released the names of 181 stores that were fined in the COVID-19 protocol crackdown over Thanksgiving weekend and some were fined thousands of dollars.

The majority of the fines were slapped on shops at South Bay malls such as Santana Row, Eastridge and Oakridge. Multiple businesses said the problems were fixed in minutes, but cost them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Santa Clara County alerted businesses last week that because of surging COVID-19 cases, they’d be skipping the warnings they’ve handed out the past eight months and fining them on site. 

Last weekend, that included 181 stores and restaurants. 

 Most were at:

  • Santana Row 
  • Valley Fair  
  • Oakridge Mall 
  • Eastridge Mall 
  • Stanford Shopping Center 
  • Gilroy Outlets 

Each violation ranged from $250 to $3,750. One Santana Row shop said it was fined $700 for not having a sign up saying they passed COVID-19 protocols. 

Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão was similarly fined. One manager says he is upset because the health department signed off on their plan six months ago and was never heard from again.

But this weekend, without warning, enforcement officers fined them multiple times for about $5,000, saying the restaurant's outdoor dining space wasn’t compliant. 

“If they're already taking precautions to stop the spread, and the government knows about it, then there’s no point of fining them further,” said shopper Richie Bhardwah of Fremont. 

Also this week on the Peninsula, the owner of Origin Gym said he was trying to hold classes outside after San Mateo County shut down all gyms. 

“So I drive by an empty park in Foster City, and I’m like, ‘That looks great,’” said Dario Tejo. 

But Monday, while holding a socially distant class, officers stopped by to say he didn’t have a permit. Tejo said that like other business owners, he’d like more collaboration instead of crackdowns. 

“And then when we take the initiative to try to continue this mission of creating healthier people in these communities, we’re slapped on the wrist,” he said. “That’s the only time we hear from officials is when we’ve done something ‘wrong.’”

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