As big box stores thrive, power-mad politicians use coronavirus as cover to wage war on small businesses

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, December 15, 2020

“Why aren’t you at Costco right now, there’s 500 people inside Costco!”

That is what a customer standing in the doorway of Nick the Greek restaurant in Ventura, California yelled at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stormtroopers who swooped in to cite the owner for the crime of staying open.

Restaurant owner Anton Van Happen speaks to health department operatives who were sent to cite his business. / Twitter

The owner, Anton Van Happen, is one of thousands of victims in the war on small business under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic.

Van Happen’s restaurant was given a closure order on Friday for having outdoor seating. The eatery did not use the outside seating, it offered takeout only. Van Happen said he put the seating in place as a form of protest. He followed all of the draconian protocols mandated by a drunk-on-power government in Sacramento.

Health inspectors still issued Van Happen a citation.

A Daily Caller field reporter with the Twitter handle Jorge Ventura Media captured the disturbing display of government overreach on livestream.

After the public health inspectors left, someone who was watching the livestream in Alaska called in and bought $100 worth of food to give away and added a $100 tip for the staff.

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, several viewers of WQOW News 18 asked why small businesses in the community, like The Pickle and Shenanigans bar, were named by the health department as places of possible coronavirus exposure but not big box stores.

News 18 asked the local health department and got this response from its director, Lieske Giese:

“The truth is that right now we do have bars and restaurants on that list because that is a place where people are interacting in ways that are really not keeping physical distance. At a Kwik Trip or a Walmart there are very, very few times where someone comes into contact with someone closer than six feet for 15 minutes or more.”

But is that actually true, are big box stores not a major source of covid transmission?

City leaders in El Paso, Texas said contact tracing data show big box stores are the leading source of where the virus has been infecting community members.

“The main retailers — the Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes — and all those fall under federal guidelines. As determined by Homeland Security, we have no legal oversight control over any limitations to those stores,” Mayor Dee Margo said during a November news conference, KTSM reported.

On Nov. 13, New Mexico Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered state residents to shelter in place until Nov. 30. All food and drink establishments must provide curbside pickup and delivery only. On-site dining is prohibited.

The new order revives the governor’s all-out assault on small businesses. Grisham’s press secretary, Nora Meyers Sackett, said the state has revoked operation licenses for businesses that have “flagrantly violated” public health orders in the past, and it will continue to do so as needed. Sackett noted local municipalities and local law enforcement have been authorized to enforce the governor’s mandate.

New Mexico State Police Deputy Chief of Operations Paul Joye said police have been authorized to begin writing citations to send offenders to Magistrate Court.

A large group gathered at the state capitol in Santa Fe in October to protest Grisham’s lockdown orders.

“Lift the shut down. We don’t need it. If you want to stay home because you’re scared that is totally fine. America is about choices,” KOB 4 News quoted protester Jordan Danielle as saying.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office told KOB 4 that New Mexico residents “are not welcome to their own set of facts about the pandemic.”

In New Jersey, the owners of a gym who defied Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown orders have now been hit with more than $1.2 million in fines — despite not having a single covid infection linked to the business.

The Atilis Gym in Bellmawr has been hit with more than 60 citations even though the gym has had no infections linked to it after more than 83,000 visits since the first citation was issued, one of the co-owners, Ian Smith, told Fox News.

Smith told Fox that Murphy has “thrown everything he possibly could to shut us down.”

Smith sent a clear message to Murphy and other state officials in a video shared by TMZ in which he vowed to stay open — filmed without a mask in the middle of his packed gym.

“Gov. Murphy will see this video and fine us $15k for it,” reads one of a series of flashcards Smith holds up in the video.

“But … free men don’t ask permission. Or for forgiveness,” it continues.

“F–k you, Murphy,” a male voice then says loudly in the video after Smith walks off camera.

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