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County to Crack Down on Businesses that Defy Health Orders

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By Jorge Casuso

July 23, 2020 -- After shutting down some 100 businesses for failing to comply with health orders under the cornonavirus emergency, County Health officials announced Thursday that they will step up enforcement.

The department -- which has received 17,808 complaints since the health emergency was declared in mid-March -- will begin issuing fines at the end of August, officials said.

Health officials said the department has shut down 26 restaurants, one grocery store, one pool and 67 other businesses for Health Officer Order violations.

They are among the more than 17,000 restaurants, 3,500 grocery stores, 600 pools and 3,000 other businesses that have been investigated, health officials said.

Most of those businesses have "either came into compliance or were working to come into compliance," officials said.

"We want to be reasonable and work with business owners," said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, PhD.

"But we also know that time is of the essence to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health of workers, customers, and their families.”

The department has created a tiered compliance and enforcement plan that "will include citations and fines for businesses that continue to violate Health Officer Orders," officials said.

Beginning at the end of August, health officials will start issuing fines to non-compliant businesses that range from $100 for the first offense to $500.

Multiple offenses can result in a 30 day permit suspension for businesses that are "licensed and permitted by the department and those that are not," officials said.

Announcement of the crackdown comes as health officials confirmed there have been 2,014 new cases of COVID-19 and 49 new deaths as of 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Public Health has identified 166,848 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 4,262 deaths across all areas of the county, which has some 10 million residents.

Ninety-two percent of people who have died had underlying health conditions.

Testing results are available for nearly 1,593,000 individuals with 10 percent testing positive, officials said.

Santa Monica has a total of 574 confirmed cases and 37 deaths, up from 554 cases and 35 deaths reported as of noon Sunday ("Santa Monica Sees Weekly Drop in Coronavirus Cases," July 20, 2020)..

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