SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County leaders say now is the time to heed public health orders seriously.
Law enforcement and county leaders said authorities would begin enforcing California's and the county's stay at home orders. San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said the maximum penalty of the health orders could be citation for a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
"The days of trying to get voluntary compliance are really over," Gore told reporters. "The message is going to go out to all of public safety here in the county that we will start issuing citations ... the more compliance we have the shorter of a duration these public health orders will be."
The county went a step further. Leaders are encouraging residents to start wearing facial covering in public, in addition to continuing to practice social distancing and hand washing.
For some businesses, the county said a public health order will be issued for mandatory facial covering for all employees that deal with the public, including gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies. That order will start April 4 at midnight.
:Grocers are working around the clock to safely secure the food and essentials for the citizens of California. The safety of our employees and customers is always our first priority, and even more so during this health crisis," said Ron Fong, President & CEO, California Grocers Association. "With such short notice given by San Diego County, grocery companies will be scrambling to be in compliance by Saturday’s deadline. We look forward to hearing from the County quickly on how it will support grocers securing appropriate face coverings for all its workers by April 4."
Todd Walters, President of the The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, also had concerns about the mandate. Their union represents thousands of grocery and drug workers.
"I don't know how anyone is going to get that many face coverings that quickly," he said. "We're talking tens of thousands in two days. So it's possible that somebody is going to be wearing a bandana or a T-shirt."
Walters says ideally he would want the employers to provide the masks for the workers.
"Obviously, if I'm managing a retail store, I don't want people wearing socks or bandannas or T-shirts over their face. I'd want something that looks appropriate that can be cleaned and that's going to fit nicely," Walters said.
County leaders also want essential businesses to outline how they will enforce social distancing. Stores must prepare and post their sanitation and social distancing guidelines for the public by April 7.
Facial coverings for residents or essential businesses does not need to be a medical grade covering, the county said.
County leaders said they would also begin closing all parking lots at parks and require all outdoor activities to be passing — walking, hiking, biking, etc. — and not group activities — like soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.
The county says they will enforce penalties against businesses not following health orders as they are reported.
In San Diego County, 966 cases of COVID-19 have been reported and 16 people have died from the virus as of Thursday.