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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego residents and leaders rally to reopen businesses and schools as Gov. Newsom says stay-at-home order will be extended

The City of El Cajon and Reopen San Diego hosted the free holiday rally Monday, "All I Want For Christmas is Freedom."

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — A rally was held Monday after an appeals court stayed a judge's decision to halt enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions against San Diego County restaurants. 

The City of El Cajon and Reopen San Diego hosted a holiday rally called "All I Want For Christmas is Freedom" at the Centennial Plaza in El Cajon to advocate for fully reopening San Diego businesses and schools. 

The event included speakers, as well as food and pop up shops outside City Hall in Centennial Plaza.

"Common sense just means we can actually go out and reopen safely and not see the kind of financial ruin and despair that we're seeing among kids," said Amy Reichert with Reopen San Diego.

The group started amongst parents wanting to send their kids back to the classroom. Reopen San Diego's mission statement describes the group as "a non-partisan coalition of concerned citizens from every walk of life."

It's since morphed with business leaders, all of whom believe the regulations in place aren't helping bring covid numbers down.

"Right now in Florida, schools are open, businesses are open and they're doing about the same as California, so we believe that following that model with responsible common-sense measures we can protect the vulnerable and reopen safely," Reichert said.

Last week, a San Diego Superior Court Judge ruled strip clubs and restaurants could reopen, saying there wasn't enough evidence to show the spread of COVID-19 is linked to either environment. As a result, several businesses opened up.

But, late Friday, an appeals court judge froze that order, meaning they'd have to close again. While some have adhered to the ruling, others have not.

“I certainly think they should be allowed to open unless you can prove that the spread of any kind of illness is coming from these businesses,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said.

Wells was among several political leaders at Monday's rally.  State Senator Brian Jones and Congressman Darrell Issa were also in attendance.

He said people are struggling to survive.

And while COVID-19 cases and deaths are skyrocketing, you have to look at other factors as well.

"Suicide rates are up, divorce rates are up. There are so many costs to this, so I think if you're going to say every life counts, then you got to be honest and say every life counts, not just COVID lives," Wells said.

Legal analyst, Wendy Patrick, spoke with News 8 Monday about the uncertainty over the future of dining at local restaurants as we await a judge's ruling this week.

"Are the COVID rising numbers due to restaurants being open or people gathering together? In other words, is it social responsibility or professional accountability? With another hearing next week the court will again hear arguments from both sides," Patrick said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case have until Wednesday, Dec. 23 to respond and the appeals court will decide on what's next.