LA County Sues Local Cafe For Bucking COVID-19 Rules. Owner: ‘This Fight Is About Defending Our Freedoms’

Los Angeles County filed suit last week against a local café that has refused to abide by heavy-handed regulations and health codes despite amassing fines totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

Novo Café in Westlake Village has defied the Los Angeles County health department for months, keeping indoor and outdoor dining open while refusing to require that employees wear masks. Novo Café owner Massimo Forti told The Daily Wire that he has no intention of submitting to the “illegal mandates.”

Los Angeles County health officials have issued Forti and his restaurant dozens of fines totaling nearly $100,000. Forti said that he refuses to pay a cent of it.

“What they’re doing is unconstitutional and illegal,” Forti told The Daily Wire. “This fight is about defending our freedoms.”

In a lawsuit filed last week, the county accused Novo Café of “putting the health of their workers, customers, and the community at risk,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Novo Café remained open to indoor and outdoor dining last winter in violation of county COVID-19 rules. The café has also continued to operate for nearly a year after the county pulled its public health permit in February 2021 over its repeated violations.

The community has rallied around Forti’s café and its stand against the county health officials. “The community loves us,” he said, as customers continue to gather at Novo despite the county’s attempts to shut the café down. Forti has not fundraised to cover the fines or his legal fees, telling The Daily Wire that he intends to continue fighting and “figure things out” as they come.

Los Angeles County has struggled to enforce its health orders on many local businesses. In August, a local news outlet conducted an unofficial audit of eateries in the area and found that in many restaurants, employees and patrons were going maskless in violation of the order.

“The I-Team documented employees and customers not wearing masks indoors at restaurants across LA County–from the trendy Escuela Taqueria near The Grove to a string of eateries in the Pico-Robertson district, including the Beverly Hills Bagel Company and the Pico Café,” NBC4 reported at the time.

In many instances — such as with the Beverly Hills Bagel Company, Pico Cafe, and Escuela Taqueria — the owners claimed to have not known that their employees were violating the health codes and promised stricter enforcement when approached by NBC4. Forti was one of the few who unapologetically challenged the health codes.

“I believe in freedom of choice. So the mask is just, in my opinion, a sign of submission,” Forti said at the time, adding that he would continue to fight the COVID-19 health orders on “principle and the fact that everything [the health department is] doing is unconstitutional.”

During his interview with The Daily Wire, Forti urged more people to stand up against the Public Health Department. “We’re looking for patriots in all industries — business, legal, everything,” Forti said.

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