ALTURAS, Calif. — At the Brass Rail, two neon signs were beaming “OPEN” Friday, as the town and county slowly hummed to life, the first to do so in California in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to stay home.
About a dozen customers were in the bar of the Basque restaurant — the only portion open so far — eager to be back among friends and neighbors after a six-week shutdown mandated by the Democratic governor 300 miles (480 kilometres) south in Sacramento.
“It’s been a long haul. We’re a small community,” said owner Jodie Larranga. “It’s not that we’ve been given permission, we’ve just had a belly full. People are fed up.”
Modoc County is a place that defies California stereotypes. It’s where semi-trailers carrying logs from the nearby lumber mill pass on the highway and where seven in 10 voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And its residents are putting their faith in local officials, not the state.