South Pasadena bar owner charged with violating COVID-19 lockdown order after opening pub on St. Patrick’s Day

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The owner of a South Pasadena bar who angered some people when he opened the doors to his Irish pub bright and early on St. Patrick’s Day, in the face of the COVID- 19 crisis and its state and local lockdown orders, has been charged with violating a county health order put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Joseph Patrick Griffin, 57, of Lake View Terrace is facing one misdemeanor count of violation of the Los Angeles County’s health officer order for opening his bar, Griffins of Kinsale, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

The doors to the pub, located at 1007 Mission St., were open for St. Patrick’s Day revelers on the morning of March 17.

The county’s health order, which required residents to practice social distancing and closed several businesses including bars, went into effect the day before. The city of South Pasadena also shut down all bars on March 16, as well as other businesses including dine-in restaurants.

“On March 17, during the order mandating the closing of bars that did not serve food and other non-essential businesses, the bar allegedly opened its doors, served customers and offered live entertainment,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Griffin told the Los Angeles Times when he opened his bar at 7 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, he was unaware of the bar closure orders. He also talked to the newspaper about being “quarantine shamed” in person and on social media.

“To have people call me and my business out online so viciously — in some cases, to have people screaming at me and the employees of this bar — was incredible,” Griffin told L.A. Times a few days after the incident.

Griffin was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.

The case against Griffin remains under investigation by the South Pasadena Police Department.

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