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Coronavirus Update: San Mateo Deputies Handed Out More Than 1,000 Citations And Stay-At-Home Warnings Over Weekend

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) -- During the weekend surge to the San Mateo coastline, sheriff's deputies handed out more than 1,000 citations and warnings for violations of the county's stay-at-home order, officials announced Tuesday.

While being heralded by Gov. Gavin Newsom in his daily coronavirus update on Monday for clamping down on the homebound residents exodus to the coast, the numbers show that it wasn't without a great deal of effort in San Mateo County.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office issued hundreds of verbal and written warnings and parking tickets in an aggressive campaign to prevent county beaches from becoming overcrowded during the emergency stay-at-home order.
"We have one of the most restrictive health orders in the entire Bay Area. And one of the restrictions is you have to live within five miles in order to recreate. So, that's what we're recommending," says Capt. Saul Lopez.

According to the statistics released Tuesday, deputies handed out 347 parking citations and 568 verbal warnings along coast on Saturday and Sunday.

Deputies also handed out 47 written warnings in Half Moon Bay, 83 on the north coast and 61 on the south coast. There were only 3 written warnings handed out in areas away from the coast.

The Cabrillo Highway and nearby surface streets have been signed by Caltrans, San Mateo County Roads and the town of Half Moon Bay with extensive "No Parking" signs under the current stay at home order from Lantos Tunnel to the Santa Cruz County line.

"Nonetheless, there continues to be extensive disregard for the signs," the sheriff department said.

Last weekend, San Mateo County authorities told over 900 people to leave beaches after learning they were from outside the area, a violation of the county's coronavirus shelter-in-place order. Under the county's order (.pdf), people who are leaving their homes for outdoor recreation are required to stay within five miles from their residence.

The San Mateo County Health Order limits "outdoor recreation activity" to "within 5 miles of the individual's house." The restriction is effectively a locals-only policy for the county's many beaches.

"We are trying to restrict travelling to other places for those reasons. And I think it makes sense that people who are not from here should restrict their travel as well," says Kaitlin Hawkins of Half Moon Bay.

Hawkins says she understands the temptation after six weeks of sheltering in place to visit the coast but says it negates our efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The Sheriff's Office says 70 percent of the beach goers who've recent warnings were from outside the county.

"People who are coming from more than five miles away, we understand the desire to get out, the need to get out. But people should follow the order and recreate near their own house," says Bob Nisbet, city manager for Half Moon Bay.

The Sheriff's Office is using an off-road vehicle to patrol the beaches, hoping their very visible presence will discouraging people from visiting from outside the area.

But not everyone agrees that access to the coast should be limited even during the outbreak.

"If you go to the beach and maintain a six-feet distance, you're not being irresponsible. People do need recreation. People do need to get out," said John Burton.

Devin Fehely contributed to this report.


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