Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order to try and limit the spread of coronavirus. Now Sacramento-region law enforcement agencies are figuring out how to handle complaints against "non-essential" businesses that are still open.
Penalties for disobeying the emergency order for non-essential businesses to close come with a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, if convicted.
All five law enforcement agencies in Yuba and Sutter counties have been contacting businesses that are not essential but have remained open.
Officers are telling businesses which ones qualify as essential, and which should close.
“We’re talking to these non-essential businesses," says bi-county public health department spokesman Russ Brown. “It’s about that distancing. Some of those businesses that we’re talking about are built on the idea of closeness, of not being socially distant: barbershops, salons, massage, whatever it is. Those are based on (people) being very close together.”
Government Code Section 8665 says it is a misdemeanor to fail to comply with the governor’s order. Non-essential businesses include dine-in restaurants, vape shops, gyms, and golf courses.
No one has been cited yet. According to the Yuba City Police Department, some owners have said they were not aware of the law because English is not their first language. Other businesses have explained how they are complying with the new rules. Others have shut down. Brown says there have been no instances so far of a business staying open once contacted.
Folsom Police Chief Rick Hillman says his department prefers to respond to complaints by calling the business first.
“If that doesn’t work, we then send a fire prevention officer, code enforcement officer or a detective to the business to make contact with the owner or manager and help them to understand why the order is in effect,” Hillman said.
Elk Grove Police have not contacted anyone yet, but have received a few complaints. Deputy Jason Jimenez says they will send an officer if they receive multiple complaints about a single business.
“So far what we’ve seen is it’s not the same business, and so that’s kind of the stance we’re taking is if we get a repeat call in (regards) to the same business, and that’s when we’ll make the determination of whether or not we make that visit and provide education to that owner.”
The Yolo County Sheriff’s department says code enforcement and city police officers would be notified of any complaints. Like the others they’ve only had a few reports. Theirs were related to golf courses in the county.
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