San Diego County officials send stern enforcement warning over purple tier restrictions

Posted at 6:05 AM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 14:47:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego County officials urged people across the county to cooperate with the latest public health orders and purple tier restrictions Monday.

The county broke its record for the highest single-day COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday at 1,087. The second highest day was reported Monday with 833 new cases.

During an emergency briefing, county officials said too many people fail to take the proper measures to slow the spread.

“It is really about wearing facial coverings, and the social distancing, and staying home when you are sick,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.

“As we go into the Thanksgiving holiday, we know that people want to get together, but I encourage you to follow the guidance that we have posted on our website, that the state, as well as the CDC, are recommending. Really limit your engagements or gatherings over the holidays. Follow the guidance from the state, no more than three households. I would strongly encourage you not to travel out of state.”

County Supervisor Greg Cox said cease and desist letters were sent to several businesses and entities that refused to follow the purple tier closure orders over the weekend.

Wooten recently asked law enforcement agencies to step up enforcement efforts in their jurisdictions; Supervisor Cox sent similar letters Friday.

“On Friday, I sent a letter to all the mayors in our region to have them step up enforcement of state and local public health orders. And our regional compliance team is moving forward on complaints we are receiving, we need your cooperation, and we certainly need your compliance,” said Cox. “If not, we are fully prepared to enforce compliance with our local law enforcement agencies and other jurisdictions.”

“You can be open, and you can be safe. It’s not either-or,” said Dr. Jeremy McGarity, lead pastor at Skyline Church.

Skyline church did not receive a cease and desist letter Monday, but they’ve been warned before.

McGarity said he believes religious services are essential, and he couldn’t stand by and watch people struggle with their mental health any longer.

“We saw the huge rate of suicide ideation that went through the roof,” he said. “We actually felt like for us, it would be spiritual malpractice to stay closed.”

McGarity said the church offers outdoor and online services but has no plans to shut down indoor operations.
Instead, he says they have added several health and safety measures and leave it up to the congregants to decide.

“For some people, being inside the church is their relationship to God,” he said.

If cease and desist letters are ignored, that could result in criminal misdemeanor citations with a $1,000 fine for each violation. Cox warned Monday that full closure orders could be enforced if businesses do not cooperate.

Several lawsuits challenging the state and the county have already been filed. It’s something McGarity does not want to do but says the shutdown orders shouldn’t be looked at as “one size fits all”.

“I don’t want to fight our county. I love our county,” said McGarity. “We don’t want to fight, we really don’t, but we will because we know our rights, and we know how important it is that we stay open.”