SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed on Monday afternoon threatened tougher enforcement of coronavirus-related shelter-in-place orders in San Francisco if residents continue to gather in public places.
During the past weekend, people could be spotted gathering socially at beaches and public parks in San Francisco, sometimes in large groups clearly ignoring social-distancing recommendations.
Breed said that if it becomes necessary, she will close the city’s parks and instruct police to more strictly enforce stay-at-home orders.
“The folks out on the streets having drinking parties, the folks who are out on the streets socializing and coming together and not taking social distancing seriously, you are putting lives at stake. You are putting public health in jeopardy,” Breed said.
San Francisco Department of Public Health officials reiterated that the goal is for fewer people to get sick all at once so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals.
“The mayor has said this is not a snow day and she is exactly right. It is not a time for outings,” said SF Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax. “Sad to say, the worst is yet to come. Every community where the virus has taken hold has seen a surge in coronavirus patients who need to be hospitalized. We expect that to happen in San Francisco soon. In a week or two.”
On Monday, Mayor Breed announced the closure of all San Francisco playgrounds and said she is prepared to close other public spaces to make sure people stay at home.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott echoed the need for voluntary compliance among residents to the shelter in place order.
“Enforcement is still an option. The health order is legally binding. It is a misdemeanor, but we don’t want to make a problem into a bigger problem by the way we go about our enforcement efforts,” said Scott.
So far, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the police department.
Earlier Monday, a frustrated San Mateo County health officer lashed out at those who continued to disregard the shelter-in-place order and its social distancing requirement.
Dr. Scott Morrow took to his blog on the health department website to pen an emotional note.
“As I write this, I am both immensely grateful and exceedingly disappointed,” he wrote. “We are in a grave crisis. I believe the virus is growing at an exponential rate in our county. Unless everyone does their part and follows the County’s Shelter-in-Place order and the Governor’s Safer at Home order, we will be facing an Italy-type catastrophe very soon.”
Officials in other parts of the Bay Area were responding to issues with shelter-in-place enforcement that happened over the weekend.
In Marin County over the weekend, roadways, hiking trails and beaches on Saturday were clogged with thousands of visitors as Bay Area residents sought outdoor relief from the shelter-in-place order. The overcrowding led officials to close all Marin County parks on Sunday.
Betty Yu contributed to this story.