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Crackdown intensifies on those violating coronavirus stay-at-home rules

San Francisco Police (torbakhopper/Flickr)

Authorities across California are intensifying their crackdowns on scofflaws who are not following state and local stay-at-home orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed criminal charges against 10 businesses — including a massage parlor, smoke shop, car wash and print shop — saying they refused to shut down despite Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order imposed to fight the coronavirus.

It’s part of a larger crackdown not just on nonessential businesses but also on individuals who are going to beaches, trails and parks that are closed.

Earlier this week, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott and City Atty. Dennis Herrera announced that they had shut down an underground nightclub for violating the city’s public health order. It was the first such move to enforce the measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The operators of this illegal club senselessly put lives at risk,” Scott said, “at a time when our city is doing everything within our means to slow the spread of this pandemic and safeguard the health and well-being of the public.”

In Los Angeles, the owners of 14 businesses face misdemeanor prosecution for continuing to remain open in violation of the “Safer at Home” order, which was issued March 19 and requires businesses deemed nonessential to close.

“We have to achieve voluntary compliance,” Feuer said. “We have achieved voluntary compliance in more than 200 cases.”

The Los Angeles Police Department has reported 79 businesses to the city attorney for criminal prosecution since the order was put in place, according to the mayor’s office.

Those charged Tuesday included the owners of two San Fernando Valley smoke shops, a Lincoln Boulevard tobacco shop, a vape store, a Sepulveda Boulevard car wash, a Sherman Way massage parlor, a Verdugo Road print shop and a South L.A. beauty supply store, according to Feuer’s office.

Last week, Feuer charged four stores — including two smoke shops, an electronics discount store and shoe store — with violating the closure order.

More than 120 citations have been issued across San Diego County to people accused of violating stay-at-home orders.

As of Monday, sheriff’s deputies across the county had issued 68 citations, San Diego police had issued 47 and Carlsbad police had issued 10 for a total of 125, according to figures provided by each department. The total roughly doubled from a week ago.

In many cases, the citations were issued at locations that are closed to the public, including beaches and parks, though details about each citation were not readily available, officials said.

The other police departments in the county said Monday that they had not issued any citations.

San Diego police’s total includes 18 citations given to businesses. Last week, the department said officers had cited five smoke shops.

A police spokesman said the figures were estimates because the handwritten citations were hard to track. The numbers came from specific units and divisions, Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.

Three citations he reviewed from last weekend were issued to people accused of ignoring closure signs at beaches.

“Officers either saw the people walk past and around barricades,” he said, “or people admitted to knowing the beach was closed.”


© 2020 the Los Angeles Times