San Diego County officials recommend residents wear face coverings while in public

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County officials said Thursday authorities will begin enforcing social distancing guidelines after midnight on Friday, with fines and jail time possible for those who are found to be in violation.

County residents can face fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail if they violate the stay-at-home order, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

“The days of voluntary compliance are over,” Gore said.

Health officials also recommended all San Diego County residents wear facial coverings of some sort while out in public for essential purposes, such as while grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions. The facial coverings are not meant to be medical-grade; those who have medical-grade masks were asked to turn them over to medical professionals.

“When you leave your place, cover your face,” said Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Eric McDonald.

Additionally, all businesses that remain open as essential businesses must provide employees with social distancing guidelines by Monday and insist that all employees wear masks while on the job, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

If you see an employee out of compliance, you are asked to first notify the business owner. If the noncompliance continues, you can report the business to the county by visiting https://211sandiego.org/.

The new guidelines will be enforced as part of the county’s efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus within the community. “If we come together in this month of April, we believe we can flatten the curve,” Fletcher said, adding that he believes social distancing is helping limit the spread.

In addition to the county’s updated safety guidelines, McDonald said another county resident has died after contracting coronavirus, bringing the county’s total number of resident deaths to 16. The latest resident to die was a 98-year-old woman, officials said.

As of Thursday afternoon, health officials said 966 county residents have been positively diagnosed with coronavirus, a 117-case increase over the total reported Wednesday afternoon.

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