SAN JOSE, Calif (KTVU) - In light of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order, San Jose city officials are providing clarity about which businesses can remain open.
The San Jose Police department has begun outreach to city businesses through its Health Compliance Units. Four such units are working during the day and evening shifts.
For officers Andrew Gomez and Jimmy Vela, who work in the department's Health Compliance Unit, an extra shift equals another day in the frontline battle against the coronavirus.
“We’re just advising and educating the public on the certain parameters provided by the county. Non-essential and essential businesses currently functioning,” said Gomez, who’s been on the force for two years.
On Friday, the pair traveled to North San Jose where they reiterated the current shelter-in-place order.
STAr-Edge Technologies, a medical device company, can stay open during the order, but its vice president said he’s appreciative of the police check.
“I think everyone will be safer. And I think that ah, it should be that way,” said the company's vice president Albert Ninalnga.
According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, only essential businesses are permitted to remain open. All others must shut down, as part of the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We know this is a difficult time, and we appreciate the public’s continued cooperation with our efforts to keep all of us safe and healthy,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
San Jose police brass said as of Thursday, 55 businesses have been contacted for non-compliance. Everything from restaurants to auto repair shops; flea markets to furniture stores; gun shops to video gaming stores.
Chief Eddie Garcia said the educational outreach becomes something else next week.
“Our current plan is to move from an educational stance to an enforcement stance on any business that has been contacted, warned, and then reopens," Garcia said. "We’re looking to begin that enforcement next week. We have several remedies which include a criminal citation, business license suspension, and health code citations,” said Garcia.
The officers said they’re finding receptive ears to what is a difficult message and job— making sure all but essential businesses are effectively shuttered
“It’s difficult but it’s part of my job. And I have to educate people on what the county has ordered,” said Gomez. Added his partner, 24-year veteran officer Jimmy Vela, “If we see a violation we’ll be able to educate them as well. And then we’ll be able to move on from there.”
Aiding officers in the task is the public. Officials ask residents to call 311 if they see a business that is not in compliance with the shelter-in-place order.
Mayor Sam Liccardo said is not snitching, but rather the same as calling the police if someone is seriously breaking the law.