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Sacramento County to weigh fines for businesses that violate health orders

The Urgency Ordinance is meant to address a small but increasing number of businesses and activities that aren't comply with health orders.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — New fines could be in the future for Sacramento County as leaders mull over a COVID-19 penalty ordinance.

An agenda item for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is recommending action that would approve an "urgency ordinance." It would bring about penalties for public health order violations and would need a 4/5ths vote to pass.

It was originally scheduled to be heard on Nov. 17, but on Monday, officials said the Department of Health Services will request the item be continued to Dec. 8 for "further development and vetting."

The potential fines could differ between non-commercial and commercial violations. Non-commercial violations could see fines anywhere between $25 to $500 and commercial violations could see fines of $250 to $10,000.

By design, the fines are meant to have an impact. According to the urgency ordinance, some circumstances demand a “substantial penalty” for public health order violations.

“Administrative penalties must be—where necessary and appropriate—significant enough to ensure they cannot be dismissed as ‘the cost of doing business,’” according to the ordinance.

Recently, Sacramento County was forced to backpedal on their reopening plans. Multiple stores, restaurants, and other business are left dealing with the aftermath of rising coronavirus cases across California and Sacramento County as they comply with tighter business restrictions.

The county said the vast majority of reopened businesses and activities are complying with public health orders, however, they added that there is also small, but increasing, amount of businesses that are only partly complying or completely disregarding public health orders.

“These violations present a serious and immediate risk to public health and safety, contributing greatly to the likelihood of a crisis that will cause many preventable illnesses and deaths,” according to the county.

ABC10 reached out to the county to learn more about the ordinance, however, additional details weren't available.

"At this time, the County cannot provide additional information because it is still in development and hasn’t come before the BoS (Board of Supervisors) for their consideration and approval," Brenda Bongiorno, a Sacramento County spokesperson said.

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