SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento County is asking for the public’s help to pinpoint businesses and people not complying with health mandates.
The county started adding COVID Enforcement options to 311 when businesses first started to reopen weeks ago. County Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said they typically get 100 to 200 calls every week.
“It’s to make sure we are holding people accountable,” he explained.
Restaurants like Aioli Bodega Espanola are working to keep up with the changing guidelines. General Manager, Azi Bellarbi-Salah welcomes the county’s effort.
“Please, if I’m not doing the right thing, call 311 on me,” he said. “We are all in this together and if we want it to be a shorter period of pain, then we got to suck it up, tighten the belt, tighten the bootlaces and keep going.”
Copper Forged in Old Town thinks the reporting could cause conflict but supports the county’s educational approach.
“The fact is there is an increase (COVID-19 cases) but at the same time, it could cause more animosity for how people are taking this,” owner Robert Ulucan said. “It actually shows that Sacramento is trying to do the educational move and giving you a warning, which I think makes all the difference.”
For the county, holding people accountable is focused on education. Currently, there is no fine if you don’t comply. Once a person or business has been reported three times, the county pays them a visit.
“Virtually all of the time that I’ve been involved it is education or if need be, kind of cajoling them to behave well. It’s never you do this or we will shut you down,” said Dr. Beilenson.
Beilenson said the county has largely seen positive results with compliance once they educate people and businesses on health mandates. However, education is not working in all areas.
“The one area where I would say that potentially enforcement would be necessary is at the parks, beaches, and riverways. That we are still having an unfortunate amount of young people still gathering,” he explained.
Public gatherings could push the county to implement enforcement and issue fines for the first time. Beilenson said the health department plans to speak with county supervisors about the possibility of enforcement. The order could come from supervisors or possibly be issued by the county’s health director, according to Beilenson. A health order would include a warning for the first offense and a fine thereafter.
“Every effort is being made as much as possible to get people to behave appropriately and a lot of that is education, and we hope not to have to do enforcement, but if we do it will be in the next couple of weeks,” he said.