SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — A Sacramento County retail discount store is facing a shutdown order in a time when many counties are actually opening up.
“We are all trying to survive like everyone else,” said Michael Pizarro.
Falling Prices stores in the Sacramento area have been open throughout the stay-at-home order, offering deeply discounted grocery store items. They’ve been following health and safety protocols.
“We have had our employees wearing masks [and] gloves. We are having them sanitize every 10 to 15 minutes kiosks and carts,” Pizarro said. “We don’t know what we are doing that is different than Walmart or any of these other stores that are selling the same things.”
So when a Sacramento County code enforcement officer came in on Wednesday and said they were violating the health order in place because of the coronavirus, they were stunned.
“He spoke with our assistant manager and very up-front said you are deemed inessential, you need to shut down,” said Pizarro.
Management says their mobile app, which controls the number of customers inside the stores, is perfect for social distancing – and that their bargain-basement retail model fits during these tough economic times.
“I see it. They’ll go here before they go to their local stores,” said assistant manager Rachel Henry.
Store management says it does carry essential items like toilet paper, bleach and sanitizing wipes, but it goes quickly. In fact, they were already out just a half an hour after the store opened. Management wonders if that’s why the inspector said what he said.
Either way, Henry – a mother of two – would hate to see them close their doors.
“This store has done so much for my family, so to see it get to that point – and hopefully it doesn’t -that, I think it would hurt us lot,” Henry said.
Especially now when the company is actively hiring people.
“In the midst of everything, the unemployment rate being up, we are trying to bring people on to do what we can for our community. And it just seems like no matter what we are doing, it’s just not good enough,” Pizarro said.
Sacramento County said it responded to a complaint. The officer observed violations of the social distancing protocol, specifically that the store was not creating limits so that customers had at least six feet of distance from each other. The code enforcement officer gave the manager a copy of the Public Health Order.
Code enforcement is investigating whether the business is essential. Essential businesses, however, must follow the social distancing protocol.
A follow-up visit is pending. If the store is still not compliant with social distancing protocols, the complaint may be referred to the district attorney’s office for enforcement. Code enforcement does outreach but doesn’t enforce the Public Health Order.