Todd Gloria chats with volunteers during a campaign event in October. Photo by Chris Stone

Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers and shrinking ICU capacity, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria Wednesday signed an executive order calling for stronger enforcement of state and county public health orders throughout the city.

The newly elected mayor said he’s directed the San Diego Police Department and City Attorney’s Office to pursue fines of up to $1,000 and “potentially other enforcement actions against public nuisances who choose to endanger the lives of others and blatantly and egregiously defy the provisions of state and county public health orders.”

The bolstered enforcement efforts go into effect at 11:59 p.m.

The executive order, which comes one day after California extended its regional stay-at-home order for the Southern California region due to surging COVID-19 hospitalizations, also suspends enforcement of parking regulations throughout the city “in an effort to encourage San Diegans to abide by the stay-at-home order.”

The city will not be enforcing parking meter violations, time limited parking, yellow commercial zones and short-term green zones. Red, white and blue parking areas will continue to be enforced, however.

“As mayor, I cannot sit idly by as our local hospitals and morgues threaten to overflow as the coronavirus surges unchecked throughout our region,” Gloria said.

In a brief news conference announcing the executive order, Gloria had strong words for those he said have prolonged the pandemic “with their selfishness.”

“While many have sacrificed their social lives for a greater good, others have treated this with a sickening level of apathy as their neighbors died,” he said.

The mayor also urged San Diegans ahead of New Year’s Eve to abide by statewide restrictions of non-essential activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and celebrate at home this year.

“As much as all of us want to celebrate the end of this terrible year with our family and friends, it is more important than ever to heed the guidance of public health officials at all levels, and take the necessary precautions against the spread of COVID-19,” Gloria said.

“We owe it to the overburdened healthcare workers, all those suffering from economic hardships and the 1,400 San Diego families who lost a loved one to this terrible virus to do everything in our power to stop this devastation from dragging on any longer than it must,” he said. “COVID-19 is not a joke — this is a matter of life or death.”

— City News Service

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