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By Jorge Casuso
October 22, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica announced this week that it is deploying “Health Ambassadors” to ensure compliance with emergency orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ambassadors -- who will operate six days a week -- will "focus on safe business operations and face covering education" but will not issue citations, City officials said in a statement Tuesday.
“As we continue to live with and through the pandemic, the City is working continuously to support a safe experience at our public spaces and local businesses,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg.
“This challenging time requires partnership, and we thank our residents and visitors for wearing face coverings and being responsible patrons.
"We similarly thank our local businesses for adapting their operations to offer a slice of normal and joy for our daily lives.”
The ambassadors will serve as "force multipliers" for the City’s Code Enforcement team by conducting business checks to ensure local establishments are following Los Angeles County health guidelines.
They will ensure businesses have the required signage posted, that personnel and patrons are "wearing face coverings when not eating and drinking" and that physical distancing is being adhered to, as well as other requirements.
"While this team will not be issuing citations, they will assist Code Enforcement staff and Santa Monica Police Department Public Service Officers in special face covering enforcement operations," City officials said.
They also will "provide education and distribute face coverings to protect community health."
The costs of the program "are potentially eligible for FEMA reimbursement," officials said.
Since mid-March, Code Enforcement has conducted 35,059 business checks and issued 854 warnings and 126 citations, according to data provided by the City.
There have been 8,351 face covering checks, 408 face coverings distributed and 42 citations issued.
The City's latest enforcement effort comes as a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll released September 30 found Californians are less concerned about the health threat posed by COVID-19 than they were two months ago.
"There has been a lessening in California voter perceptions of the seriousness of the health threat posed by the coronavirus in their local area over the past two months," the Institute said in a press release.
"In July fully two-thirds of the state’s registered voters (67%) felt the coronavirus health threat was becoming more serious in their area.
"Now, fewer than three in ten (28%) say this, while a plurality (40%) describes the health threat as remaining about the same, and 31% feel it is becoming less serious," the poll found.
Fewer Californians also report being "seriously impacted by the virus in their own lives," according to the poll.
The online poll was completed in English and Spanish by 7,198 California registered voters between September 9 and 15.
For the latest information, visit santamonica.gov/coronavirus, or call the City’s Coronavirus Hotline at (310) 458-8400.
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