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Battle over purple tier restrictions in San Diego County

Posted at 5:40 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 20:40:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — By Saturday, many businesses will be shutting their doors all over again as San Diego County deals with a new round of restrictions in the purple tier.

"The overwhelming majority of folks who are doing it right are forced to be punished because of the individuals who choose not to," said Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County Supervisor. "Where we are now in a situation where we're faced with all bad options."

The county's public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, recently requested the state reconsider San Diego County's tier placement and keep the county in the red tier. She argued that data from October revealed the county's increased COVID-19 cases are not because of the sectors that would be impacted the most by moving into the purple tier. The request was not approved.

"We're going to continue to work to do everything we can with the state to have an approach that's right," said Fletcher.

He said it's essential that every jurisdiction across the county does what it can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"We have to come together," he said. "There are limits of what the county can do when it comes to enforcement; we really need the help of the law enforcement agencies."

But some say this has gone too far. Many business owners are now choosing to defy the orders and stay open to ensure their business survives, and employees still have a job.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said he has taken many calls and emails about the struggles business owners face in his jurisdiction.

Some say defying the orders and keeping their doors open means keeping food on their family's table. Wells said having police respond to COVID-19 related complaints won't be a top priority.

"A lot of us believe the government is overreaching in the situation and so, the county, if this is what the county wants to do, then they're going to have to do the enforcement," said Wells.

Fletcher said the only way to get back to a sense of normalcy is to understand how serious this pandemic is and tackle the problem together.

"There is no functioning economy when you get out of control spread of a pandemic," said Fletcher. "So when you have the mayor of a city and jurisdiction say they're going to ignore and defy public health orders, that sends a signal to people that this is not serious and they don't need to worry about it ... That leads to an increase in cases, an increase in deaths, and more closures."