California police issue citations for beach sunset watchers; private golf clubs push back against closure

(Image: San Diego Sheriff/Twitter screenshot)

California is making sure residents know they are taking the state’s stay-at-home order seriously, issuing citations to nearly two dozen beach-goers in one day and closing all golf courses in one county.

With over 15,000 cases of COVID-19 in California, and at least 350 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, officials in the state are serious about enforcing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s sweeping directive issued last month telling residents to “stay at home” in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Citations were issued to 22 people in Encinitas last week who were “watching the sunset, having picnics near the beach,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office said over the weekend.

“Over the past couple of weeks, our deputies have gone out on foot and provided physical copies of the public health order as well as the executive order to educate our community members and businesses,” Lt. Amber Baggs said in a video that was released on Saturday.

“Now, we’ve gotten to the point that we’ve had to escalate and now we’re doing enforcement,” she said, adding that a “large group” of deputies and detectives went out to enforce the orders.

“These were not recommendations that came down, these were actual orders that our deputies have gotten to the point now to where we will enforce and we’re going to continue to be doing enforcement,” Baggs explained, as the sheriff’s office noted that violators could face fines up to $1,000 or six months in jail or both.

“It’s not that we’re trying to be mean or exert unnecessary authority, it’s we’re dealing with a crisis at this point,” she added. “We want compliance from everybody because this is lives that we’re trying to save.”

Three other citations were issued to others violating the stay-at-home orders, according to City News Service. In the tweet sharing the video, the sheriff’s office told residents that “complacency is the enemy,” urging them to take social distancing “more seriously” in order to stop the spread of the virus.

“The quicker we can shut down the spread and this pandemic, the quicker that we can all get back to a normal life,” Baggs said in the video.

Riverside County Public Health Officers made the unprecedented move to close all golf courses – whether public or private – last week.

People living on private golf courses in their own neighborhoods were included in the order, prompting some local private golf clubs to push back in a letter to the government.

“We believe that golf should be treated the same as walking, running, cycling and other outdoor recreational sports and activities that offer the benefits of social distancing,” a letter from general managers of the area’s private clubs read, according to KESQ. “By the game’s nature, golfers play more than six feet apart and, in most cases, remain up to hundreds of feet apart.”

The enforcement of stay-at-home orders has raised plenty of questions and complaints as more states have issued the orders and have taken on new ways to deal with non-compliant citizens, including using drones to get the message across.

Pennsylvania issued its first citation last week when a 19-year-old who was “going for a drive” was pulled over by Pennsylvania State Police for a tail light that was out but was reportedly issued a $200 ticket for violating the state order.

The citation, obtained by WPMT, said Anita Shaffer “failed to abide by the order of the Governor and Secretary of Health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 20:00 hours on March 29, 2020. To wit, defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect.”

State Police insisted there are no COVID-19 checkpoints in a tweet addressing concerns.

Meanwhile, as regular Americans are seeing their First Amendment rights trampled amid the COVID-19 crisis, some lawmakers are proving once again that the rules don’t always equally apply.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot came under fire for ignoring the Illinois stay-at-home order to visit a hair salon. The Democrat defended her move by claiming that as “the face of this city” she needs to look good even during a global pandemic.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also been slammed for insisting that his daily 11-mile drive to Brooklyn doesn’t fall under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order banning unnecessary travel.

The Democrat reportedly contended that a walk in Prospect Park every day is necessary “to be most effective.”

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Frieda Powers

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