SAN DIEGO (KGTV)—It’s New Year’s Eve. While many people will be celebrating safely at home with immediate family only, others choose to go out or gather despite a regional stay-at-home order in effect.
Crowds of people were seen in Little Italy Thursday afternoon. The Gaslamp District was quieter, but people were also seen dining outside against the health orders.
This month alone, the County of San Diego has already issued more than 100 cease and desist letters to businesses in violation of state and county public health orders.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order Wednesday calling for egregious violators to be held accountable for violations. Gloria said he ordered the San Diego Police Department and asked the City Attorney to pursue fines and other enforcement actions against egregious violators and people repeatedly violating the health orders.
“People who have been repeatedly contacted by public health and law enforcement, informed of their violations of the public health order and continue to persist. That kind of behavior is considered a public nuisance under the law; it can also be a form of unfair competition recognizing that the vast majority of businesses are complying with the public health code,” he explained.
Gloria said his office had been contacted by many business owners who are complying with the latest restrictions but upset that others operating near them are not.
”We’ve seen over 1,400 of our neighbors die of COVID-19, surging positivity rates, and a new strain that was just detected in our community yesterday; all signs show this continues to be a serious public health threat,” said Gloria. “We have a mask order, and it’s been in place in our county since May. People know that outdoor dining had to cease several weeks ago because we have limited ICU capacity; people know that there’s a curfew.”
A spokesperson from the San Diego Police Department sent ABC 10News this statement regarding the mayor’s order.
“The police department will conduct enforcement to ensure our communities are kept safe and to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Those who willfully violate the county/state health order may be cited.”
The regional stay-at-home order was extended earlier in the week as the ICU availability in the Southern California region remains at zero percent.
“The surging rate of COVID-19 in our community is extremely troubling, and I’m glad that Mayor Gloria is taking swift action to protect San Diego hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Taking effect in advance of the New Year’s Eve holiday, this order affirms county and state public health mandates, including banning private gatherings of any size. While we all are eager to celebrate the end of a difficult year, I urge San Diegans to stay home and stay safe,” said City Attorney Mara W. Elliott in an emailed statement.
Gloria’s order also suspends some parking enforcement. Including not enforcing parking meters or street sweeping tickets. The goal of this is to get more people to stay in their homes.
“Two-hour parking limits, parking meters, things of that nature can contribute to people’s need to exit their home. We want them to stay at home as much as possible because we want to limit the spread; this is one of the ways the city can help allow people to do that as well as make it easier for them to do that,” Gloria explained.
Parking in red zones, blue zones, and white loading zones will continue to be enforced.