Police in San Francisco say that they may need to take steps to enforce a shelter-in-place order issued Monday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus if people don’t voluntarily comply, the Washington Examiner reported.
The residents of six counties in the San Francisco Bay area have been ordered to shelter in place beginning Tuesday. Individuals are only allowed to leave their homes in order do things such as grocery shop, engage in solo outdoor exercise, buy medicine, go to the doctor, or work in jobs deemed essential — such as those in the public safety realm — for the next three weeks.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said officers hope they will not need be actively engaged in enforcing the order, but they may have no other choice, according to local PBS affiliate station KQED, adding:
Yes, by law, enforcement is an option, but that is not our desire. We intend to adhere to the spirit of what this is all about, in keeping people safe.
Authority to act
Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ray Kelly said of the order that also impacts his jurisdiction, “We don’t in law enforcement perceive any major problems with people not complying,” San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX reported.
“Where there is extreme levels of this, the law is giving us the authority to act,” Kelly said.
The shelter-in-place order explicitly states that “Violation or failure to comply with this order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
According to KPIX, San Francisco Police Assistant Chief Mike Redmond said, “The order does include an enforcement piece, but our main goal is not to go there. There will be a lot of education, and talking, and things like that before there is any type of enforcement.”
The order affects 7 million people, although the area’s large homeless population is exempt from the order since those individuals lack the necessary shelter, the Washington Examiner reported.
San Francisco mayor blames Trump
Grant Colfax, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health said of the mandate, “I know today’s order is a radical step. It has to be. We need to act now, all of us, to protect the public health.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed blamed President Donald Trump for necessitating the move, calling the administration’s response to the pandemic “terrible,” according to the Examiner.
“We can’t sit back and wait for the federal government to do anything,” Breed said. “Unfortunately, they have not been as proactive as they should in recognizing this is a crisis throughout the world.
“History will not forgive us for waiting an hour more,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo declared.