The new year in Encinitas begins with stricter oversight of outdoor dining and other activities as San Diego County ended 2020 with a record number of deaths from COVID-19.
Encinitas is tightening its enforcement of California’s regional stay-at-home order, the city announced Thursday, Dec. 31. The action came the same day that county officials announced a record 62 deaths from the coronavirus.
Businesses that are not complying with the stay-at-home order face losing city-issued encroachment permits and could be tagged with county fines, according to the city’s announcement.
City officials report that several Encinitas businesses have been defying state and local orders prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining.
“Businesses operating in defiance of the Regional Stay at Home Order encourage gatherings outside the household, creating an unsafe environment and an illusion that the rapid spread of COVID-19 is not something to take seriously,” Encinitas City Manager Pam Antil said in the city’s announcement. “We all hope for an end to the pandemic sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we need everyone to comply with public health orders, wear a mask and support our local businesses by ordering takeout instead of risking in person dining at this time.”
Although code enforcement officers are contacting such establishments to encourage voluntary compliance, businesses in violation could lose their public right-of-way encroachment permits, which allow for outdoor dining and other activities in public rights-of-way such as sidewalks, streets and parking.
“These encroachment permits have been an important way to help our local businesses survive when they were forced to pivot to outdoor operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said in the city’s announcement. “Right now, with only take-out allowed we can’t have restaurants using the public right-of-way to violate the county’s health orders.”
The county’s COVID-19 death report of 62 on Dec. 31 surpassed the previous single-day record of 39 on Dec. 22, the county stated.
In addition, the county reported that a total of four men had contracted a new United Kingdom strain of the virus, known as B. 1.1.7., which is considered more contagious though not necessarily more deadly.
“We believe that many more cases of the B. 1.1.7. strain will be confirmed in the coming days and weeks,” Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of the county’s Epidemiology and Immunizations Services branch, said in the county’s Dec. 31 update. “This strain of the virus has been reported to be spread more easily in the UK and so it is therefore crucial that now, more than ever before in this pandemic, we follow the public health orders and keep each other safe.”
Local ICU bed availability is 0%, according to state information reported by the county.
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