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Santa Monica Boosts Enforcement of COVID-19 Emergency Orders
By Lookout Staff
February 18, 2021 -- Since last March, the City has been steadily beefing up enforcement of its coronavirus emergency orders, resulting in fines, construction stop work orders and more than 1,100 customers ejected from local businesses.
An update provided Thursday by Code Enforcement Manager Sharon Guidry sheds lights on the efforts the City has rolled out to make sure residents, visitors, businesses and construction workers are complying with emergency orders.
Since last March -- when the City's first Health Officer Orders were implemented -- Santa Monica’s "Emergency Order Compliance Group" has completed more than 57,800 business compliance checks.
The team has issued 260 COVID-19 business citations and 73 stop-work orders at construction sites, according to City data.
The results, Guidry said, show "overwhelming compliance from businesses."
Since face covering citations began to be issued last July, the team has completed 27,212 face covering checks, distributed 3,317 face coverings and issued 63 citations, according to City data.
The team also directed 1,169 people to "leave a business because they refused to wear a face covering," Guidry said.
In October, the City added four “Health Ambassadors” who focused on safe business operations and face covering education.
The ambassadors "serve as force multipliers for the City’s Code Enforcement team and help increase public compliance with COVID-19 public health and safety emergency orders," Guidry said.
In December, five additional ambassadors were deployed "to further expand compliance efforts," Guidry said.
Another two Code Enforcement Officers were added during the midyear budget process "as part of a set of community enhancements made through savings from vacant police officer positions," Guidry said.
The Emergency Order Compliance Group has also launched "face covering details" and "coordinated efforts to respond to large gatherings and events across Santa Monica," she said.
Recently, the team partnered with the Big Blue Bus "on a face covering compliance campaign targeting passengers who are actively riding the bus."
The team has educated passengers, distributed face coverings and issued citations.
Anticipating a large party on Super Bowl Sunday, Code Enforcement "coordinated an effort to suspend water service at a property that was identified as holding weekly events in violation of the County's health officer orders, Guidry said. The event was canceled.
Under an emergency order issued weeks after the pandemic began, Santa Monica became one of the few California cities to implement and actively enforce fines.
Customers and workers at local businesses open during the coronavirus emergency must wear face coverings or face fines of up to $500 for patrons and $1,000 for businesses ("Santa Monica Workers, Customers Must Wear Face Coverings or Face Fines," April 9, 2020).
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