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Supervisor suggests fines that ‘bite’ to curb Covid-19 health order violations

With some members upset that the current administrative fines for violating Covid-19-related health orders aren’t high enough to ensure compliance, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in Tuesday is scheduled to discuss — and perhaps approve — new administrative fines for businesses and others found to be breaking the rules.

The proposed ordinance, as outlined in a county staff report, doesn’t include any specific fine amounts. But last week, County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said that she wants to see fines that have “bite” and that business owners consider too high to risk violating the rules.

Jesse Garnier Contra Costa County Covid-19 cases by day as of Sunday, December 13, 2020.

Mitchoff mentioned fines as high as $20,000 for some violations by businesses.

Mitchoff said at the Dec. 8 supervisors’ meeting:

“It’s time to bring the hammer down.”

Currently, businesses face a $250 fine for a first violation of the county heath order restrictions; $400 for a second violation, and $1,000 for a third violation. Violations can include conducting some kinds of business at all (dining at a restaurants, indoors or out, is not alowed, for example), or not enforcing social distancing, customer capacity or cleaning mandates.

According to the draft ordinance, the fines could be appealed to the Contra Costa County Superior Court.

The supervisors’ meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, and is virtual only, viewable by going to the county’s website.

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