PACIFICA, Calif. - San Mateo County is investing half a million dollars on a newly-formed task force. It’s dedicated solely to ensuring businesses comply with COVID-19 health orders. The unit plans to visit businesses on Monday.
There are half a dozen businesses on their list of non-compliance. The task force’s purpose is not to issue citations but to educate. If that doesn't work, businesses can face hefty fines.
Pacifica Beach Yoga in San Mateo County promotes hot yoga on its window front. In recent weeks, it's become a hotbed of controversy with numerous complaints of indoor operations going on for months. Those sweating it out without masks.
The owner declined to talk. His patrons don’t see a problem.
The yoga studio is one of the businesses on the county’s radar for not complying with the health order. However, no action has been taken against the studio.
“To date, we have not fined one person,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa. “We have not fined one business.”
San Mateo County is comprised of 20 cities with no one system for enforcing COVID rules and regulations until now.
“If there’s a business that is non-compliant and doesn’t heed our warnings,” said Canepa. “Then we can fine them up to $3,000.”
Eight county workers, non-sworn personnel form the COVID compliance task force to crack down on violators. It’s a pilot program for the next two months.
“We’ve hired them,” said San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy. “This is a new division that we’ve put together in two weeks and we think it’s that important to keep businesses open.”
The county manager said among the complaints are restaurants exceeding capacity limits and bars too.
“They are not open indoors in the state yet and some have chosen to go ahead and open,” said Callagy.
“If we don’t adhere to the rules that we have we can’t move to different tiers,” said Canepa.
County officials are eager to advance from the red tier into orange on the state’s coronavirus risk tiered system so more businesses can re-open. They're also worried of a COVID spike during flu season. At least one county resident thinks it’s a good use of county funds.
“Until we’re out of the woods either for mitigation of COVID or finding a cure we need to work together and that means all of us work together not just a few of us,” said Chris Romero of Pacifica.
People can report bad behavior through the county’s 211 system or online. Repeat violators could face criminal charges, possible jail time.