Sheriffs in counties that represent 40 percent of California‘s population have said they will refuse to enforce Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest lockdown orders, as frustration over the restrictions mounts.
The backlash follows Newsom’s new order telling residents of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to remain inside their homes as the state grapples with a coronavirus surge.
But Newsom sparked confusion when he backtracked on his stance around beaches, telling residents they should visit for their mental health seven months after he shuttered Orange County shores.
Now, the sheriffs of Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties in Southern California are saying that they will not enforce the governor’s restrictions.
‘Compliance with health orders is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement,’ Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a blunt statement.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said that enforcing the business closures is the job of Los Angeles County’s Health Department
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes (left) and Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco both leveled harsh criticism at Newsom and said their deputies will not enforce his orders
Newsom new order tells residents of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to remain inside their homes except for essential matters
‘To put the onus on law enforcement to enforce these orders against law-abiding citizens who are already struggling through difficult circumstances, while at the same time criticizing law enforcement and taking away tools to do our jobs, is both contradictory and disingenuous,’ he continued.
Barnes appeared to be referring to a number of California cities, including Los Angeles, that have voted to defund their police departments in recent months.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said that enforcing the business closures is the job of Los Angeles County’s Health Department.
‘I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can,’ he told KTTV.
‘They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders, and then they have the rug yanked out from under them, that’s a disservice. I don’t want to make their lives any more miserable,’ added Villanueva.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco was even more harsh in his criticism of Newsom’s order.
‘These closures and stay-at-home orders are flat out ridiculous,’ Bianco said in a video statement. ‘Leaders do not threaten, intimidate or attempt to cause fear — bullies do.’
Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley went into full lockdown last weekend
Bianco ripped into Newsom for dining out at ritzy restaurant French Laundry in a merry gathering with lobbyists and health industry execs while ordering restrictions on his constituents.
The sheriff slammed the governor for threatening to withhold state funds from non-compliant counties.
‘The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not be blackmailed, bullied, or used as muscle against Riverside County residents in the enforcement of the governor’s orders,’ he said.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has also said his deputies will also not enforce the order, though that county is not yet under stay-at-home orders.
Other officials are also fighting back against the orders. In Manhattan Beach, Mayor Suzanne Hadley converted a city-owned patio into a seating area where people can take to-go orders from restaurants and eat them outdoors.
Newsom’s order forbids restaurants from serving customers at outdoor tables, and the public patio serves as a workaround.
‘Shopping for a Christmas gift, buying a to-go meal, watching a sunset are allowed, and even the outdoor activities are encouraged by the state,’ she said.
Ryan McCann holds up a banner during a protest by hair salon owners and workers against the latest lockdown orders outside the offices of Marin County Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis
The most recent stay-at-home order allows some businesses to remain open, frustrating shuttered business owners who say officials keep sending mixed messages
Newsom tweeted Thursday some recommended activities for Californians to enjoy safely amid the pandemic with ‘go to the beach’ top of his list, as he told residents that ‘mental health is physical health’.
However several of his recommended activities are the same ones he has previously railed against during the pandemic.
Back in April, Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to close after ‘disturbing’ images showed masses of residents flocked to the sands ignoring the state’s stay-at-home order.
California holds the record for the most total infections of all 50 US states, after taking back the lead from Texas this week.
On Thursday, the state set a one-day record of 220 deaths.
Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said if people don’t follow orders to stay home except for essential needs ‘we are running a risk that could have catastrophic consequences, with hospitals becoming overwhelmed and severely ill patients not able to get the care they need.’
Ferrer said the county needs to return to the stricter restrictions of the spring at the beginning of the pandemic.
Back in March, all retail in California was closed. The normally clogged streets of San Francisco were so desolate that for weeks birds could be heard singing at all times of day.