Deputies issue citations on Friday
San Diego Sheriff’s deputies issue citations on Friday near beach in Encinitas. Courtesy sheriff’s department

Citations were issued to 22 people found near the beach in Encinitas in violation of San Diego County’s stay-at-home order, authorities announced Saturday morning.

The tickets were issued Friday to people who “were watching the sunset, having picnics near the beach,”  according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

“Everyone is required to stay home, except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job,” the department tweeted Saturday morning. “Complacency is the enemy. Take social distancing more seriously to stop coronavirus.”

The violations carry fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail or both, the department said.

“You can easily transmit coronavirus (without) knowing it, creating a snowball effect,” a tweet from the department said. “By staying home, you can save lives. The public health orders were not created to follow when convenient.”

Last Tuesday, Encinitas Mayor Catherine S. Blakespear laid out reasons for the shutdowns.

She acknowledged that the coastline was of “sacred importance” to many in Encinitas.

But Blakespear wrote in an email to residents: “I have received lots of emails from those concerned that people or businesses need to do a better job strictly following the guidelines, and I’ve also received feedback second-guessing the decision to close beaches, saying that crowding isn’t that common on Encinitas beaches and the risk of transmission is low. After all, there is a lot of space on the sand, most of us are in family units, and people in the ocean are rarely closer than six feet from each other.”

She noted the reality that the virus spreads wherever people meet.

“The more strict every single one of us can be with our commitment to ‘stay at home,’ the quicker we’ll be able to get beyond this,” she said.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.