SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve several coronavirus-related measures to step up enforcement against businesses not following public health orders.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the vote for increased enforcement will dedicate more resources to address businesses violating health orders. The new measures were originally presented in August 2020 but only partially adopted.
In a statement, Fletcher said due to the "significant surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths the new Board of Supervisors again reviewed those enforcement options" and adopted all of them.
"We are increasing resources and reaffirming our commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in San Diego County by expanding the scope and commitment of enforcement by our county's compliance team," Fletcher said in a statement. "Taking these actions will protect lives and help in the regional effort to beat COVID-19."
The county's compliance team will now be able to:
- Conduct proactive inspections;
- Issue citations for violating the county's safe reopening plan;
- Refuse relief funding to businesses not in compliance with public health orders, as legally possible; and
- Ensure enforcement of the policies are "fair and consistent with science and data" on the spread of the coronavirus.
Supervisor Jim Desmond said he voted against proactive enforcement against businesses and restricting relief from violators, "because I believe all business sectors should have the opportunity to open and operate safely ... These businesses are barely hanging on and not being able to receive funds will push them over the edge."
"Since the lockdown, and keeping people at home, our daily cases have gone, from the hundreds to thousands per day. I will not be silenced when I see oppression, arbitrary closures, or discrimination against anyone. Any organization, any business, any school, or any church," Desmond wrote on social media.
According to the county, to date, 335 cease and desist orders have been issued by the compliance team. Within a few weeks, two-thirds of violators have come into compliance, while one third remains in violation of public health orders.
Michel Malecot, who owns The French Gourmet, said he is not violating the order and wants to keep people safe. He is increasingly relying on takeout from his bakery to stay afloat.
Malecot said he supports the county's move.
"I think that will level the playing field, because a lot of people are following the rule, biting the bullet," he said.
Malecot said, however, that he understands the frustrations of business owners.
"Some people are just desperate to make payroll, to pay the rent," he said.
ABC-10News reporter Jon Horn contributed to this report.