County to crack down on businesses that ignore COVID-19 health orders

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to step up enforcement against county businesses who are flouting the medical orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think absent enforcement, it will be hard to step up compliance…” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

The board designated $1.8 million to create an enforcement team to investigate businesses that refuse to follow health guidelines meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I believe as a county we need to step up our efforts. We’ve taken some modest steps to go after the egregious, willful, blatant violators, but I think we need to do more,” Fletcher said.

The county will hire 22 people to investigate and shutdown businesses that refuse to follow county health orders, won’t take mandatory precautions or reopen prematurely after they have been ordered to close. A hotline will also be set up for people to report businesses that are operating unsafely. The county will investigate the reports and order inspections when appropriate.

“We are not talking about grandma, who forgot her mask walking her dog. We are talking about those individuals whose actions are holding up our county’s ability to get our schools back open and get our small businesses back open,” Fletcher said.  

On Monday, the San Diego County District Attorney filed five misdemeanor charges against the owner of a Ramona gym for repeatedly violating COVID-19-related public health orders. The complaint against Peter San Nicolas, who owns Ramona Fitness Center, alleges violations of the health order requiring that all gyms and fitness centers remain closed.

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