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On Saturday, officials in the California city of Burbank resorted to putting a chain-link fence around a restaurant, the Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill, because it was repeatedly defying COVID-19 mandates. This move comes as demonstrators continue to rally on both sides of the issue, according to NBC Los Angeles. 

City police Lt. Derek Green says that the fence was put up to stop the establishment’s owners from reopening in unsafe conditions. On Friday a court gave authorization to shutoff the restaurant’s electricity, and a preliminary injunction was also granted to stop the restaurant from conducting business without either a County Health or City Conditional Use Permit. 

Green also said that ongoing demonstrations that attract crowds of dozens have stretched police resources.

He says those demonstrating groups have been mostly peaceful, but that those who live by the business have been “impacted by the commotion.”

A Superior Court Judge has not levied sanctions against the restaurant owner for violating health orders, or for offering outdoor dining when it was outlawed in Los Angeles County. 

On Tuesday morning the restaurant owner’s 20-year-old son was taken into custody by police because he was seen removing sandbags that were put in front of the building to try and stop people from getting in. He was cited and released shortly afterward, though the arrest was his third in less than a week. The local prosecutors say he may be charged with a criminal misdemeanor, though no decision has been finalized. 

As for the restaurant’s official owner, Baret Lepejian, he lives in Thailand. His children are the ones who operate the business. Furthermore, Lepejian told the L.A. Times that he backs his son’s actions, and that he won’t pay the $50,000 in fines that have racked up against the business throughout this entire ordeal. 

“Show me one shred of evidence how I am endangering the public,” he said to the paper. “This has never been about safety or the public. It’s never been about that. This whole thing is about fear and control.”