Sac County health officials drop plan to enforce COVID-19 restrictions by fining businesses


Sacramento County health officials on Tuesday said they would withdraw plans for a new ordinance aimed at enforcing health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic with fines.

At issue during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday was a proposed urgency ordinance to deal with what county staff say is a small but growing number of businesses disregarding health orders as coronavirus cases surge locally and across the nation.

The proposal would allow for citations to be issued for violators. Commercial businesses would face fines ranging from $250 to $10,000. For non-commercial, the fines would be smaller, ranging from $25 to a max of $500. For repeat offenders, fines would automatically double for each day of violation.

Dr. Peter Beilenson, the county’s top public health official, said during the meeting that he was withdrawing the bill because of the effect on businesses.

He said that if the ordinance was brought back later in the month for consideration it would be based on trying to reduce “egregious” private gatherings. But he publicly doubted even a modified ordinance would happen, as people begin to get vaccinated in the coming months.

The move to scrap the plans to fine businesses led to cheers from members of the audience during the hearing, some of whom had come to protest the proposed ordinance and forced an hourlong recess by banging on doors outside the hearing at its start.

Meanwhile, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said officials projected the Greater Sacramento region would fall under 15% ICU availability by the end of the week or early next week. That would trigger new restrictions under the state’s new regional stay-at-home order.

Many storefronts won’t be allowed to open when the stay-at-home orders are imposed. Sectors that will be closed include: Bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops. Retail stores will be limited to 20% capacity and restaurants will only be allowed to offer to-go orders and delivery.


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