SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — As Illinois and New York state joined California on Friday in ordering all residents to stay in their homes to help stem the coronavirus spread, local leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area were wrestling over how to enforce the order.
Lockdown orders now encompass the three biggest cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — as well as No. 8 San Diego and No. 14 San Francisco and restricted the movement of more than 70 million people in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.
“No, this is not life as usual,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the death toll in the U.S. topped 200, with at least 35 in his state. “Accept it and realize it and deal with it.”
Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible, and all gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of over 19 million people.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a similar order set to take effect on Saturday for the state’s 12.6 million people.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, shelter-in-place orders have been in place since Monday in at least seven counties. Gov. Gavin Newsom extended the order to the entire state on Thursday night, restricting movement and allowing businesses to continue operate that were listed as essential to maintaining the welfare of local residents.
While most residents and businesses have obeyed the order, local officials have wrestled with how to handle those who do not.
Telsa announced on Thursday it would shut down its Fremont plant and also an assembly facility in New York state on March 23rd. The announcement ended a controversy surrounding a company decision to continue operations after a shelter-in-place order was issued for all businesses and residents in Alameda County.
The Fremont automaker claimed its assembly line was an essential business, but a group of workers were angry they were being forced to work, increasing the chance that they could be exposed to the virus. Even the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, responsible for enforcing the shelter-in-place order, got involved.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told KPIX 5 on Tuesday that the Tesla’s assembly line was not being allowed to continue working. The plant was only being allowed to conduct minimum operations.
But full operations continued through the shifts on Friday.
On Friday, San Jose police announced the department would toughen its enforcement of Santa Clara County’s health department’s and the governor’s orders.
At a press conference, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said officers in specially-deployed health order compliance patrol cars have been going to businesses and groups of people to remind them of the health order; giving them a copy of the order and asking for their compliance.
“Our current plan is to move from an educational stance to an enforcement stance on any business that has been contacted, warned, and then reopens,” Garcia said.
Starting next week, Garcia said officers said non-compliant cases will face enforcement actions. Among the remedies, Garcia said businesses continuing to operate could face criminal citation, business license sanctions, and health code violations.
Garcia said health order compliance patrols found 56 violations since Thursday among a variety of businesses.
“There were two repair shops, three restaurants, two clothing stores, nine hair salons, six barber shops, eight smoke shops, two flower shops, three gyms, one sporting goods store, one video game store, one billiards hall, one gun store, one recycling center, one furniture store, one flea market and one car wash,” said Garcia.
The chief expressed some surprise and consternation over the fact that there were businesses ignoring the order.
“A billiards hall. Are you kidding me? I don’t know how a billiards hall thought that they could be open at this time,” said Garcia. “So as we go through this education, it’s going to turn into enforcement very soon.”