Sheriff’s deputies and police in Carlsbad and San Diego issued the citations in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sheriff’s deputies and police officers in San Diego County started to enforce orders over the weekend to stay home and avoid areas including parks and beaches.
Following warnings in recent days about the possibility of citations, deputies across the county and police officers in San Diego and Carlsbad issued 52 citations for violations of the state’s stay-home order, which is intended to keep the public indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order allows people to leave their home for necessary activities, such as exercise or trips to buy food, so long as they keep six feet apart from others.
Of the 52 citations issued across the county, deputies issued 34, San Diego police issued 16 and Carlsbad police issued two.
The tickets are subject to misdemeanor charges that carry potential fines of up to $1,000, up to six months of jail time or both.
San Diego police issued 10 citations in Ocean Beach, including two at Dog Beach and three at Robb Field Skate Park. One citation was issued in the Sunset Cliffs area and five in Balboa Park.
On top of the 16 citations issued Saturday and Sunday, the Police Department in recent days also cited five smoke shops for remaining open in violation of the state order, which requires businesses deemed nonessential to close.
In Carlsbad, police officers issued two citations at Aviara Community Park on Saturday after people in a group were asked to leave “multiple times,” spokeswoman Jodee Reyes said.
“We are doing everything possible not to cite and to gain compliance through education,” she said. “Yet to aid community safety and help slow the spread of COVID-19, we will cite if necessary. We are hopeful everyone will do their part.”
Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies issued 34 citations between Thursday and Sunday, including 22 in cities and communities along the northern San Diego county coast on Friday as part of a targeted enforcement effort, partly in response to complaints.
“While we thank the public as a whole for their continued cooperation, there are some who choose to intentionally ignore the orders and congregate in groups of 10 or more in parks, parking lots, beaches, locations deemed nonessential or other public spaces,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “As Sheriff [Bill] Gore explained, not following these orders puts everyone’s lives at risk.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ricardo Lopez added: “To save lives and try and prevent our hospitals from being overburdened, the time for education is over and the seriousness of the crisis is at hand.”
For weeks, local law enforcement officials said they were focused on educating the public about the orders. Their stance grew stronger in recent days, warning the public that they would issue citations if necessary to gain compliance.
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. pic.twitter.com/0TkRYWwNbX— San Diego Sheriff (@SDSheriff) April 4, 2020
Hernandez writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.