SAN JOSE (KPIX) — California health officials said 94% of the state’s population, 37 million people, will be affected by the curfew that starts at 10 p.m. Saturday. The big question is how authorities will enforce the curfew.

San Jose police told KPIX they’re not going to pull anyone over for driving at night or walking on the sidewalk pass 10 o’clock but they will make contact and talk to serious offenders such as those who host small or large gatherings.

State health officials said the curfew is an updated version of the stay-at-home order we dealt with back in mid-March. This time, it restricts non-essential nighttime activities. Authorities said people can still walk their dogs, pick up food and perform other essential duties.

“They stay out late, chances are they’re drinking more and hanging out together more and not paying attention,” said Janet Tillman, who supports the curfew.

But many people in downtown San Jose questioned its effectiveness.

“I am going to comply because it’s what I’ve been doing all year,” said San Jose resident Chris Hilton. “Doesn’t make sense to me necessarily. Covid is around 24 hours a day.”

“Let’s just give it a try, right? I mean there’s nothing wrong with trying something that can make a difference and keep us all healthy. We’re going into flu season and the holiday season,” Tillman said.

San Jose police and other local police departments that responded back to KPIX said they will focus on education, no arrests and no tickets.

“It’s taking the bite out of the order. Honestly, I side with the police. If somebody is just walking down the street or driving safely, there’s no sense in wasting time, stopping them,” Hilton said.

“It’s a double-edge sword,” said San Jose resident Florencio Perez. “I wouldn’t want them to be too extreme with the enforcement but, at the same time … if things are getting out-of-hand, if there’s big underground house parties or things happening in vacant buildings, I think there definitely should be some citation or at least some warnings,”

Many business owners believe the curfew will result in more Covid cases, not fewer. They said it’ll push people to go from outdoor regulated environments to illegal indoor gatherings.

“Between the hours of 10 and 12, typically on a Friday or Saturday night, we do between 20 – 25 percent of our business of the night,” said Eric Nielsen, a business partner at 55 South Restaurant in downtown San Jose.

Nielsen runs two restaurants. He said the curfew will further harm struggling businesses.

“I’m definitely worried about my employees. I mean If you’re cutting out 25 percent of my open and available hours, that means they’re not going to have a chance to make 25 percent of their income. There’s absolutely zero help, there’s nothing being offered for them and it’s ridiculous! It’s really unfair and it makes me very, very worried for them,” Nielsen said.

The curfew will last for a month, through Dec. 21. Depending on the result, it could be extended.

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