A COVID compliance unit is set to begin operating early next week with the aim of helping San Mateo County businesses comply with public health orders, and possibly citing or criminally charging those refusing to comply, according to County Manager Mike Callagy.
Callagy said a function on the County website is set to go live Monday and will enable community members to report businesses that are not adhering to rules including mask wearing and social distancing.
On Aug. 4, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted an urgency ordinance to impose fines on individuals and businesses violating the COVID-19 public health orders. Commercial entities risk a minimum fine of $250 and a maximum of $3,000 per violation “depending on the gravity of the health risk, prior warnings and any good faith efforts to comply,” according to the county.
“Again, it is not our intention to go out and cite businesses,” said Callagy, adding that businesses caught breaking the rules will first receive a warning. “We want to go out and work with businesses to make sure they are compliant, that they are also providing a safe and healthy environment for individuals to come to their businesses.”
Callagy said they County has already been getting reports on non-compliant businesses.
“We compiled a list of those businesses and we will be contacting them first off when we get up and running Monday,” he said.
Some businesses have continued to flaunt the regulations, not requiring masks, allowing crowded conditions and staying open throughout the COVID-19, Callagy said.
The county manager said that’s not fair to businesses that do comply, and says it threatens to set the county back in its efforts to move to a less restrictive tier in the state’s color-coded reopening system.
“It puts all of us in jeopardy, it puts us in jeopardy of not moving out into the orange tier where more businesses can open, where more people can get back to work,” Callagy said. “And it puts us in jeopardy of moving back to the purple tier, where we will have to close down again. We will be taking this very seriously. Businesses will get warnings but we will enforce it if necessary.”
Photo is a still image from a San Mateo County video