San Rafael, CA – On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 12:01 am, Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis issued a legal order directing residents to shelter at home until April 7, 2020. That end date was extended by a similar statewide order from Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19, 2020. Both orders limit activities, travel, and business functions to only the most essential needs.
The San Rafael Police Department announced via a press release on March 17, 2020 that it takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and would enforce the Public Health Order as applicable. We have seen over the past week that not all business and members of the public are cooperating with the order.
We have directed non-essential businesses to close. We receive calls and emails daily from concerned citizens about businesses that seem to be open in violation of the order. We are also receiving reports of people gathering in groups, also a violation of the order.
We had hoped that businesses and the public would do the right thing during this Public Health emergency. Not all are. Open non-essential businesses and individuals who are gathering in groups (more than one person per the order) are putting the community at large at risk.
As of today, there have been 29 COVID-19 related deaths reported in California with more than 1,000 cases statewide, many of those in the nine Bay Area counties. Marin County currently has 38 cases.
Public Health Officer Dr. Willis has instructed local law enforcement to enforce the Public Health Order at our discretion. Violation of the Public Health Order is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. The applicable section is California Health and Safety Code 120295.
As of today, March 23, 2020, Chief of Police Diana Bishop has directed members of the San Rafael Police Department to actively seek out businesses that appear to be in violation of this Public Health Order and individuals who are grouping. Generally, warnings will be given. If compliance is not gained, a criminal citation will be issued. We do not take this enforcement stance lightly. The seriousness of the threat we all are facing prescribes that something be done.
We have been tasked with enforcement of the Public Health Order. As Chief Bishop stated on March 17, 2020, “We would prefer to gain the public’s cooperation and avoid any unnecessary enforcement.” If we work together we will accomplish the goal of keeping our community safe.
Questions about the Public Health Order can be found at https://coronavirus.marinhhs.org/.
For the most up to date information you can access the following websites:
- San Rafael Police Department website at www.srpd.org
- City of San Rafael COVID-19 website at www.cityofsanrafael.org/coronavirus
- Marin County Health and Human Services website at www.marinhhs.org/public-health
- State of California Governor Gavin Newsome Executive Order
- California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.org
- The Federal Government’s response and website at www.coronavirus.gov