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Contra Costa County considers issuing citations to help enforce COVID-19 health orders

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Trying to get businesses to voluntarily comply with COVID-19 health orders remains a difficult task for lawmakers in an East Bay County. 

Not complying with the Contra Costa health order may soon have you reaching in your wallet to pay a fine.

“It could be sort of the equivalent of writing a parking ticket, a violation, hundred dollar ticket,” Supervisor Candace Anderson said. “That might get the attention of some of those businesses not willing to comply with the health order.”

Contra Costa Supervisor Candace Anderson says the board is now considering creating an administrative ordinance making it an infraction to not comply with the health order because some businesses just won’t do it.

“Some of them are minor issues where they may have their tables a little bit closer than they should for outdoor dining but others are businesses that are not supposed to be open that are choosing to operate anyway,” Anderson said.

Which is currently a criminal misdemeanor in Contra Costa County. Those complaints are handled by the district attorney’s consumer protection unit.

“We’ve received a few hundred. We definitely got a lot in the beginning on price gauging,” Scott Alonso, with the DA’s office, said. “What businesses are allowed to operate? are they requiring their employees to wear masks? Are they ensuring when customers come into that store, they’re wearing masks.”

With the county currently in the midst of a surge in COVID19 cases, Contra Costa Health Services Dr. Tom Warne says the alternative to complying with the health order is too costly.

“The alternative to doing so is we’re going to see more and more cases. We’re going to have worse coronavirus,” Dr. Warne said. “Unfortunately more people are going to be hospitalized and more people may die. There is still a lot of flexibility to have business activity, to work, to go out and exercise and other things but it’s got to be done safely.”

The Conra Costa County counsel will submit the first draft of the health order ordinance to the Board of Supervisors by the end of the July.

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