Amid record coronavirus case counts and diminishing hospital capacities, Santa Clara County will ramp up public health inspections at local businesses over the holiday weekend and eliminate grace periods for fines.
From Thursday through Sunday, county compliance staff will visit high-traffic shopping areas to address violations of public health mandates.
And unlike before, when the enforcement team allowed businesses to correct issues in lieu of paying fines, financial penalties will not be waived.
Additionally, retail businesses must abide by the statewide 10pm-to-5am curfew, officials said. Grocery stores and take-out dining are exempt from the time limit, however.
The county’s Business Compliance Unit will focus on social distancing protocols and capacity limitations required by the public health order.
Fines start around $250 and can go into the thousands of dollars for repeat offenders.
“We know holiday shopping is critical to our Santa Clara County businesses,” County Counsel James Williams said. “If people are shopping in person, we want the experience to be as safe as possible for employees and the public. Given the rising case counts, it is absolutely vital that everyone carefully and rigorously abide by the health orders.”
Current health mandates require grocery stores to limit capacity to 50 percent. Other retailers must reduce capacity to 25 percent.
“The primary issue we’re seeing right now is capacity limits,” said Michael Balliet, head of Community and Business Engagement for the county. “Business must maintain set limits inside their stores and strictly enforce face covering and social distancing. Additionally, customers should be looking for the orange checkmark sign in front to ensure a proper business plan has been approved.”
To report violations, go to scccovidconcerns.org.