SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Nearly a couple dozen people found out Friday night that the sheriff meant business when he said keep a safe distance or pay up.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department says deputies issued 22 citations to individuals caught violating the state's extreme social distancing order.
The sheriff's department conducted a targeted enforcement operation Friday night between 5 p.m. and midnight in the cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, as well as the surrounding unincorporated areas.
"During this operation, specific locations based on recent calls for service regarding public gatherings were targeted," said San Diego County Sheriff's Department Lt. Amber Baggs.
Baggs did not specify locations of the citations or if those cited would be fined the maximum penalty.
"While we thank the public as a whole for their continued cooperation, there are some who choose to intentionally ignore the orders and congregate in groups of ten or more in parks, parking lots, beaches, locations deemed non-essential, or other public spaces," said Baggs.
The operation comes two days since law enforcement and county leaders said authorities would begin enforcing California's and the county's stay at home orders. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said the maximum penalty of the health orders could be citation for a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail, or both.
"The orders, which require extreme social distancing, are critical in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and reducing the amount of time these orders are in place," said Baggs.
"We would also like to remind everyone you are required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, exercise, get necessary health care or go to an essential job," said Baggs. "If you must go out, keep a distance of at least six feet between you and others and follow all applicable regulations imposed by the health officer."