COUNTY — “Egregious violations” is what local officials said will be enforced when the new limited stay-at-home order begins Saturday night, Nov. 21.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health issued a limited stay-at-home order on Thursday, Nov. 19, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the state.
The order generally requires that non-essential work, movement and gatherings stop between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in counties in the Purple Tier. Violation of the public health order is a misdemeanor.
San Luis Obispo County is 1 of 41 counties currently in the purple tier, representing more than 94 percent of California’s population.
The order will take effect at 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and remain in effect until 5 a.m. Dec. 21. This is the same as the March stay-at-home order but applied only between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and only in Purple Tier counties seeing the highest rates of positive cases and hospitalizations.
The order does not prevent individuals from participating in an outside activity such as exercise and dog walking, completing essential activities such as grocery shopping, picking up take-out food orders and filling up fuel, or working as a part of the essential workforce.
“We will respond to complaints of inappropriate behavior and take appropriate action against those who act in egregious violation of this order,” Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey said.
SLO County Public Health Officials reported 121 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Nov. 20, bringing the overall total to 5,607. Friday’s total is the second-highest one-day total in the County. Three days in November, the County topped 100 new cases — 128 on Nov. 7 and 118 o Nov. 14.
Since Nov. 1, SLO County has reported 1,265 new COVID-19 cases, an average of 63.25 per day.
Paso Robles had 20 new cases on Friday, Nov. 20, and leads SLO County in the number of COVID-19 cases with 1,340 cases.
“We are currently seeing a dramatic spike in cases; 121 new cases today alone,” Frutchey said. “It is crucial that all businesses and individuals in the City observe safe practices, especially over the coming week, when many of us will be traveling and enjoying Thanksgiving with extended families and friends. The City relies on our residents to act wisely and keep Paso Strong.”
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said it would continue to focus on “significant criminal matters.”
“Deputies will not be making traffic-pedestrian stops to determine the comings and goings of citizens during those stated hours,” the SLO Sheriff’s Office stated. “However, the Sheriff’s Office will take appropriate action on large egregious gatherings flaunting the curfew mandate. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office will continue its protocols, like we have with the business community, to ask for voluntary compliance when dealing with these matters.”
Paso Robles Police Department Police Chief Ty Lewis relayed that San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow indicated his office “will not file criminal charges except in the most egregious of circumstances.”
Lewis said he was waiting for the California Office of Emergency Services to issue guidance on dealing with protests during the “curfew hours.”
City of SLO officials said this was a time to educate community members and businesses regarding the mask covering guidance and limited Stay at Home Order through targeted outreach and take necessary enforcement action as appropriate.
“This is a time for our community to come together to protect those most vulnerable and support our health care workers and protect the people and the community we love,” said SLO City Manager Derek Johnson. “By taking these actions now, we will slow the spread so we can move forward as a community.”
Violations of the Governor’s orders will be enforced by the City of SLO Code Enforcement and the SLO Police Department.
“Our officers will continue to take an education and voluntary compliance approach when contacting those in possible violation of both the new mask and limited stay at home orders,” said SLO PD Police Capt. Brian Amoroso. “However, the community can expect citations to be issued when egregious and willful violations are observed, or warnings go unheeded.”
COVID-19 case rates increased by approximately 50 percent in California during the first week of November. As a result, Gov. Newsom and California’s public health officials have announced a list of measures to protect Californians and the state’s health care system, which could experience an unprecedented surge if cases continue their steep climb.
On Monday, the state pulled an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, putting more than 94 percent of California’s population in the most restrictive tier. The state will reassess data continuously and move more counties back into a more restrictive tier.
California is also strengthening its face-covering guidance to require individuals to wear a mask whenever outside their home, with limited exceptions.
Late last week, the state issued a travel advisory, along with Oregon and Washington, urging people entering the state or returning home from travel outside the state to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisory advises against non-essential out-of-state travel, asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourages residents to stay local.
“The State’s limited stay at home order is disappointing,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “However, we don’t expect this to severely impact SLO County community at this time as most routine activities do not occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Now it’s more important than ever to stay positive, have patience with those around you, and continue to do your best to decrease transmission locally.”