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Sonoma County approves fines to enforce COVID-19 health orders

Bay Area

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved Thursday an ordinance that allows the issuing of citations for businesses not complying with health orders related to coronavirus.

Citations will range from $100 for people and up to $10,000 for businesses who do not follow local and state health orders.

The ordinance was approved unanimously and on an urgency basis, which means it takes effect immediately.

The Board also approved the creation of a new county hotline that will allow the public to report infractions. The number is 1-833-SAFE707.

“Our goal is to prioritize education and outreach before fines. We know that most people are following the health orders and wearing facial coverings when out in public, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings,” Board Chair Susan Gorin said. “But we have seen a need for more enforcement options to deal with the small number of folks who are willfully disregarding the order. This ordinance will help address this issue in our community.”

Under the ordinance, people can be fined a flat fee of $100 for not wearing a face covering, not practicing social distancing or for taking part in gatherings of more than 12 people who don’t live in the same household.

People can also be fined for refusing to follow COVID-19 safety protocols required at restaurants, stores and other businesses.

Commercial operations such as restaurants, bars and stores face fines starting at $1,000 for noncompliance such as not requiring safe practices for employees. A second violation is $5,000 and $10,000 for each additional violation by the same party.

The ordinance also allows government employees outside of law enforcement, such as code enforcement officers and park rangers to issue citations. Law enforcement and community officials from Sonoma County cities say they will enforce the citations.

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