Law enforcement officers in California issued citations to people watching the sunset or otherwise spending time near a beach north of San Diego, the latest crackdown on people violating stay-at-home orders nationwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officers in Encinitas, about 25 miles from San Diego, issued tickets to 22 people who were doing things like watching the sunset or having picnics, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department said in a now-deleted tweet.
The office said people “can easily transmit coronavirus without knowing it, creating a snowball effect.”
“By staying home, you can save lives,” it added.“ The public health orders were not created to follow when convenient.”
Violators face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month said he was ordering residents to stay at home except for taking essential trips. While going out for exercise is allowed, some municipalities have become increasingly strict about blocking people from beaches and other public areas.
A large group of San Diego deputies and detectives went out between 5 p.m. and midnight in and around the cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar, the office said in a statement.
“While we thank the public as a whole for their continued cooperation, there are some who choose to intentionally ignore the orders and congregate in groups of ten or more in parks, parking lots, beaches, locations deemed non-essential, or other public spaces,” it stated.
Lt. Amber Baggs said in a video posted on Twitter that officers aren’t “trying to be mean or exert unnecessary authority; it’s, we’re dealing with the crisis at this point.”
While officers in the days after Newsom announced the order last month provided warnings and guidance to members of the public, they’ve since escalated to enforcement.
More deputies are out in the field than ever before, according to the sheriff’s office. The office has repeatedly asked people to contact authorities if they see people violating Newsom’s order or other orders, such as employees of gas stations who don’t wear face masks. That would be a violation of the county’s recent public health order mandating some employees wear masks while at work.
The CCP virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, according to health officials.
Social distancing measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus include people staying six feet from people who don’t live with them.
Other ways to avoid contracting the virus include frequently washing hands, wearing a mask and gloves when going out, and regularly cleaning surfaces and objects such as doorknobs.
As of Sunday evening, California had 13,438 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Nearly 2,400 people have been hospitalized, 1,040 are in intensive care units, and 319 people have died.