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San Antonio Stands Firm When Planet K Protests Nonessential Business Closure Order

The mayor of San Antonio and the Bexar County judge both emphasized on Wednesday their no-tolerance approach to any defiance of the emergency order to close nonessential businesses and keep people home and safe.

During a press conference, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff were asked about Planet K, a chain of smoke shops that continued to operate around the order. City officials had visited the shops almost two dozen times to warn them to shut down. They also issued citations. After the city shut down one shop, the rest of the shops in San Antonio were eventually closed.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said all businesses deemed nonessential must follow the public safety order.

“I mean this is a pandemic," he said. "We have zero tolerance for fools.”

But Michael Kleinman, the founder of Planet K, said during his own press conference on Wednesday that they were now trying to sell essential items, including food, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.

Kleiman argued that his stores in San Antonio were similar to convenience stores that are still open.

“There was no due process," he said. "Who decided that we are not essential? We sell the same thing convenience stores sell. We sell beer. We sell cigarettes. We sell magazines, etc.”

City spokesman Jeff Coyle explained that San Antonio cracked down on Planet K after repeated warnings to comply with the emergency order.

“The City’s building codes do not permit the business from re-opening until the City issues a new Certification of Occupancy, “ Coyle said in a statement. “The owner will have to apply for a new Certificate of Occupancy, upon which time the City, through its Development Services Department, will review for compliance with applicable codes."

Planet K said it understands and promotes the importance of social distancing and public health.

Universal City officials have allowed one Planet K shop within their jurisdiction to remain open with curbside services.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.