SAN BENITO COUNTY, Calif. (KION)
San Benito County supervisors approved an emergency ordinance that allows the county to fine people who do not comply with health orders Friday.
An individual can pay $100 for their first offense, and $500 for their third.
Businesses may be charged up to $5,000 for their third violation, and $10,000 for their fourth.
While some businesses say they support the Board's efforts to reduce COVID-19 cases, others question if this is the right move.
Hollister business owner Bill Mifsud, says he feels it's not just businesses the county should be looking at, but rather the county as a whole.
“You have restaurants that have been shuttered since December 15th and yet our numbers in Hollister and San Benito County have risen…where is the problem?” says Mifsud.
Mifsud says that while his business continues to follow capacity and face mask requirements, he feels the county should consider a plan for more contact tracing to find out where the cases are coming from.
Courtney Evans, Hollister business owner and Co-founder of the group #OPENSBC says she and her group are opposed to the penalties and fines, adding she feels county officials should consider the health of community members when analyzing the COVID-19 cases in the county.
“We can’t pick and choose where to enforce people, maybe our county needs to look at the overall health," says Evans.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors says they imposed the ordinance in response to rising cases in the county, low hospital capacity and complaints of several local businesses who were allegedly not complying with rules like the face mask requirement.
"The purpose of this ordinance is not to punish. The purpose is to save lives, reduce suffering and keep our community safe, said San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki.
San Benito County is considered to be part of California's San Joaquin Valley region, which is currently at 0% ICU capacity.
In terms of positivity rate, San Benito County ranks among the top five counties in the state.
Board Supervisor Kosmicki says, Saturday, that the county will continue to keep an eye out for ay large gatherings and businesses in violation of the health and safety guidelines.
The County Board hopes to increase vaccine efforts to get the virus under control.
The supervisors voted four to one to pass the ordinance.