As the Trumpists continue their wails of false fury about an election that they lost, a local battle that epitomizes the idiocy of politicizing the pandemic and denying basic science rages on just south of San Francisco.
In the little coastal town of Pacifica, the owner of Pacifica Beach Yoga has been engaged in a battle of memes and anti-science for much of the past year, all while continuing to host indoor yoga classes in defiance of state and county health orders. Tommy Antoon, a proponent of hot yoga and a vocal supporter of the former president, used the social media accounts of his yoga studio both to denigrate Democrats and aggrandize Trump throughout 2020, all while proudly advertising that he was still offering mask-free indoor classes — using hashtags like #fearfree and #cowardfree.
Due to the limits of counties' abilities to enforce the various public health orders that much of California has been under since last March, Antoon's flouting of orders against indoor workout classes didn't come to the attention of authorities until early October, when more Yelpers and media outlets, including SFist, began calling him out. In late December, as new cases and hospitalizations were raging around the region, nothing much had changed at Pacifica Beach Yoga. And following an ABC 7 followup report on the continued potential for super-spreading yoga classes — for which Antoon offered the comment "Go away, bitch!" to a female reporter — there seemed to be some action going on at the county level.
At the time, the yoga studio posted statements to its social accounts saying, "Just because someone isn't afraid of Covid-19 doesn't mean that he or she doesn't believe in it. It just means that he or she understands the risk but doesn't prioritize fear over life and freedom."
Many fitness businesses around the Bay Area have been struggling amid lockdown orders, some turning to outdoor classes. But all the while Antoon was refusing to even require masks at his indoor classes, despite abundant science about how this airborne virus is spread.
It turns out that San Mateo County had been fining Antoon — beginning with a $250 citation in mid-November, with multiple visits by inspectors and subsequent citations totaling $3,750. More recently, as NBC Bay Area reports, the county finally got around to getting a court order to shut the business town, citing the fact that Antoon had repeatedly refused to shut down voluntarily.
"This business has left us no choice," said San Mateo County Counsel John Beiers in a statement. "Our community rightly expects that when its state government imposes shelter-in-place laws, those laws will be enforced justly and equitably to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules. Pacifica Beach Yoga has repeatedly, knowingly and flagrantly decided not to follow the rules that other businesses in this county are following. That is dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue."
Antoon continued his defiance, telling NBC Bay Area, "How many people have I put in those ICU beds? How many people have left my studio permeating with the COVID virus? Zero." But he does not and can not know that!!
San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa issued a followup statement saying, "We have a simple and clear message, wear your damn masks or risk having your business close. Let this be a lesson to all other business owners who refuse to obey the law, and there are many, that if you violate the law, you will be punished. It’s not about you, it’s about everyone around you, including your friends, your loved ones and the people you don’t even know who you come in contact with."
Well, this of course got Antoon hopping mad, and he started using the hashtag "#deletedavidcampena" (misspelling Canepa's name), and made an apparent threat on social media, calling on supporters of the yoga studio (or just any unhinged right-wing nutjobs who are listening?) to "get in his face" and the faces of his wife and children.
As NBC Bay Area reported Sunday, Canepa is taking the threat seriously, "When you go after someone’s child, to me, that’s a red line." Canepa says that "law enforcement is engaged and involved," though he wouldn't "get into specifics" about what action is being taken.
In response on Sunday night, Antoon posted the Instagram post below, now able to spell Canepa's name correctly, but still unable to spell "hypocrisy."