‘We will be going directly to those who thumb their nose at public health and safety…’
(Liberty Headlines) California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned local elected officials on Friday they risk state sanctions if they don’t enforce health orders, while about 200 state inspectors enforced the orders over the long holiday weekend.
“A local government that refuses to abide by, ensure compliance with, or take enforcement action against noncompliance with these statewide public health directives, or that takes action that is otherwise incongruent with these directives, could jeopardize their eligibility for state funding,” Newsom said in letters to local officials.
The state budget that took effect this week includes $2.5 billion intended to help local governments pay for services that are needed because of the pandemic. But it is contingent on them following emergency health orders designed to slow the spread of the virus.
Law enforcement and other officials in some areas have publicly said they will not enforce the state health orders. But Newsom noted that it is a misdemeanor to violate state or local emergency orders or most local ordinances and encouraged “all peace officers” to enforce the orders.
“We are in unprecedented times,” he wrote, saying it is important to fight the pandemic “as a unified California.”
With testing showing a rising COVID-19 testing positivity rate and increasing hospitalizations, Newsom has rolled back or limited businesses reopening in Los Angeles and 20 other counties.
San Diego County, the state’s second-largest behind L.A. County with more than 3 million people, was added to the state’s watch list on Friday.
Recently reopened bars, indoor restaurant dining and other indoor entertainment venues were ordered closed back down in those counties for at least three weeks.
About 200 state inspectors enforced the health orders on Friday, and similar numbers will be out Saturday and Sunday, said Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for California’s Office of Emergency Services.
About half are from Alcohol Beverage Control, and the rest from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health and other state licensing entities.
They are part of new “strike teams” from 10 state agencies that Newsom on Wednesday said would focus on counties with the most restrictions.
“We will be going directly to those who thumb their nose at public health and safety,” Ferguson said in a statement. “State government will be out in force this weekend to make sure all California businesses and service providers are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The strike teams made 142 contacts with businesses on Thursday, their first day of operation, Ferguson said, and issued seven citations: two in Kern County, three in Los Angeles County and two in Santa Clara County.
Where possible and permitted, the battered restaurant industry moved tables outdoors onto sidewalks or into streets in hope of cashing in on the normally lucrative holiday.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.