San Diego officials are issuing tickets and threatening jail time for anyone who heads to the beach to catch the sunset during California’s stay-at-home order to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ve gotten to the point that we’ve had to escalate, and now we’re doing enforcement,” Lt. Amber Baggs of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday during a recorded message on coronavirus policies.
The office said 22 people were cited for “watching the sunset” and “having picnics near the beach” in Encinitas, a local ABC affiliate reported.
“It’s not that we’re trying to be mean or exert unnecessary authority, we’re dealing with a crisis at this point,” Lt. Baggs added. “We want compliance from everybody because this is lives that we’re trying to save.”
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore reiterated the message with a tweet reading: “Everyone is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. 22 people were cited near the beach in @EncinitasGov. Complacency is the enemy. Take #socialdistancing more seriously to stop #coronavirus.”
He cited California law — Govt. Code section 8665 — as the source of officials’ authority on the issue.
Violators of the stay-at-home order face up to six months of jail time.
Fox News, relying on data from Johns Hopkins University, reported 15,158 cases of COVID-19 in California, along with at least 350 deaths, as of Monday.
The state’s population sits at roughly 39.5 million people.
Roughly 1,300 cases of coronavirus have been documented in San Diego; 19 patients have died.