O.C. police departments focus on education for voluntary compliance with California curfew order

As coronavirus cases surge across California, state officials announced Thursday that they would be implementing a mandatory, overnight stay-at-home order just days after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a rollback of dozens of counties into the purple, “widespread” tier.

The order affects about 94% of Californians that are currently living within the most restrictive tier in the state’s reopening plans, including Orange County. It prohibits most nonessential activities and asks residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

It will go into effect this Saturday and will be in place through Dec. 21, but state health officials said it may be extended or revised.

State officials said that activities between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. are typically nonessential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings, adding that they have “a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance.”

Many of the restrictions imposed by the order reflect the stay-at-home order in March, which still allows Californians to go buy groceries, pick up restaurant takeout orders, visit doctors and other healthcare or essential service providers.

California hit a new single-day record on Thursday with 13,422 new COVID-19 cases reported. On Friday, Orange County reported 1,169 new cases.

So who will be policing the state’s overnight curfew? Orange County police departments said Friday that they would largely be continuing with existing practices. Departments said they have largely seen voluntary compliance.

A California State Park Peace Officer at PCH and Main St. in Huntington Beach.

A California State Park Peace Officer sits in his SUV at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach on Friday.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Friday in a statement that deputies would not be dispatched or respond to calls for service to enforce compliance with face coverings, social gatherings and stay-at-home orders only. Deputies will respond to calls on potential criminal behavior and for the protection of life and property.

“Let me be clear — this is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement,” Barnes said. “Orange County residents have been diligent over the last eight months in striking a balance between protecting ourselves from COVID-19 and doing what is necessary to continue to live our lives.”

Barnes’ statement mirrors that of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, which also stated Thursday that it would not be enforcing compliance with any health or emergency orders related to “curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving or other social gatherings inside or outside the home, maximum occupancy or mask mandates.”

“Collectively, we must do everything we can to protect our friends, families and our communities,” Barnes said. “I continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. I encourage others to continue to do so because it will prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

In nearby Los Angeles County, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that deputies would be focusing on education and voluntary compliance with criminal enforcement as a

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