SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed Wednesday an executive order directing stricter enforcement of the state's coronavirus-related restrictions ahead of New Year's Eve.
Gloria's order directs the San Diego Police Department and asks the City Attorney to pursue fines up to $1,000 and potentially other enforcement actions against "public nuisances who choose to endanger the lives of others and blatantly and egregiously defy the provisions of state and county public health orders," the mayor said.
"We know that this virus is aggressive, yet we see some irresponsible individuals have scoffed at inconvenient, yet easy, steps to protect themselves and those around them," said Gloria. "As mayor, I cannot sit idly by as our local hospitals and morgues threaten to overflow as the coronavirus surges unchecked throughout our region."
The order also suspends parking enforcement in an effort to help neighborhoods with limited parking for residents. The city will not enforce meter violations, time-limited parking, yellow commercial zones, and short-term green zones. However, red, white, and blue parking areas will still be enforced.
The executive order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Gloria said enforcement activities are being coordinated with county and state partners.
"This executive order is to hold accountable those who are responsible for prolonging this pandemic with their selfishness," Gloria said.
Some businesses have said they cannot afford to stay closed once again under the state's recent regional stay-at-home order. Gloria added that he intends to work with business community leaders to "invest heavily" in an economic recovery to aid those businesses hard hit by closures and restrictions.
The order comes one day after California extended its regional stay-at-home order for the Southern California region, which has exhausted its ICU bed capacity.
California's stay-at-home order already bans private gatherings of any size; requires retailers to limit indoor operations to 20% capacity; requires restaurants to offer only takeout or delivery; and suspends any nonessential work, gatherings, or retail between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Health experts have grown increasingly worried the holiday season coupled with New Year's Eve will continue to fuel the current surge of COVID-19 cases locally and in the state, thus further straining hospitals.
California's Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said the state projects incoming COVID-19 patients to exceed ICU capacity in the Southern California region over the next four weeks.
"We should expect that the hospitals that are under duress, that are in crisis already, will continue to see a high number of patients knocking on the door asking for care. Ambulances that still need to find a place to drop off a patient so they can get back in the field to support other patients who need care," Ghaly said. "... All of those trends tell me and give me continued concern that we need to continue to work to prepare for (the) next holiday surge of cases into the early part of next year, and that likely ... in the middle of January we will see a significant higher number of cases than we have today of individuals with COVID who need hospital-level care."