By John Ramos

SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) – Counties have been dealing with the pandemic for more than four months now and officials say it’s time to beef up enforcement of public health orders. In Marin County, residents may be keeping an eye on their neighbors.

Marin County actually does a pretty good job when it comes to wearing face masks. But “pretty good” isn’t good enough.

“We still are not where we need to go,” said Supervisor Katie Rice. “And given this virus is going to be around for quite a while, we really have to get to 100 percent compliance.”

So, the county has established an email address, SIPViolation@MarinCounty.org, where people can report violations of the health order, with the focus on business or commercial operations, not just someone walking down the street without a mask on.

“In a way, I think it’s right,” said Marin resident Woodrow Fitzsimmons, “because the only way we’re going to get rid of this pandemic is for people to follow the rules.”

“Everyone needs to wake up and follow the rules,” said resident Lisa Layne. “And if people after all this time are that ignorant, they need to be held accountable by the community.”

But it’s not just Marin getting tough. Contra Costa County is considering an ordinance that would allow county workers to issue citations to businesses, churches or groups they see violating the law.

“People who are not masking are doing it on purpose. They are not clueless anymore. Everybody knows out there that you’re supposed to wear a mask,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. “This is a case where sometimes you need the heavy hammer.”

Counties are scrambling to toughen enforcement because the state has threatened to cut off federal relief funds if they don’t. Still, things could get ugly. Aaron Singer’s seaplane business, “Seaplane Adventures,” in Mill Valley was recently shut down for violating the health order. But the complaint came from neighbors who had been battling him for years over noise issues.

“For three years they’ve wanted us shut down,” he said. “So they write a letter to the general counsel of Marin County and complain that we’re somehow a public health danger. And next thing I know, I have a sheriff at my door telling me to shut down.”

Marin County says they want neighbors to be courteous to each other, but it’s probably not surprising that, when you hand everyone a heavy hammer, they might start searching for nails.

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