SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Passengers arriving at Mineta San Jose Airport were surprised to learn about the new mandatory travel directive requiring travelers to self quarantine at home for 14 days due to the rise in COVID-19 cases across the county.
The mandatory order went into effect 12:01 a.m. Monday morning and covers any travelers returning from a trip 150 miles outside of Santa Clara County's borders or farther.
The new mandate issued by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department includes both residents and non-residents.
Essential workers, people traveling through the county (not staying overnight), and patients seeking treatment within the county are the only exemptions to the new order.
"We need to slow this train down right now," said James Williams, Santa Clara County counsel. "We know that it's not enough to just act locally. We're not an island, we're well aware of that, and that's exactly why we desperately need bold, aggressive, and fast federal and state action."
The mandatory directive went into effect as the county reported 801 new cases on Monday, which was the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.
Hotels and other lodging facilities can only stay open for essential travel or for use to facilitate isolation or quarantine. Officials say these measures are meant to help preserve hospital beds throughout the county.
"Nobody told me anything," said Najee Russell, who arrived at Mineta San Jose Airport on Monday Morning. "You have to get the word out for something to happen."
As of Monday morning, there were no notices posted inside of the San Jos airport, nor were flyers explaining the order being provided to travelers.
The short turnaround time from the county's announcement of the order over the weekend presented a challenge for airport officials trying to comply with transit facility notification requirements outlined in the new mandate.
"No, the county didn't tell me, but I got notified on my phone," said Tanika Hampton who heard about the advisory from a news organization prior to boarding her flight from Vegas.
An airport spokesperson told ABC7 News notices will be posted in the airport and provided to travelers by the end of the day. We went back Monday afternoon and saw informational fliers being printed to alert travelers.
"Travelers who are arriving should take a copy and read it to fully understand the requirements set forth by the county and I think that will help spread the word and get travelers' attention," said SJC airport spokesperson Scott Wintner. "You won't be able to miss it as you exit the secured area of the airport."
Russell is concerned that complying with the new mandatory order will mean he has to miss work.
"I doubt anybody is going to quarantine for two weeks. We just got off Thanksgiving that's probably a week off work. Who wants to take two more weeks off work?" he said.
The county has enforcement officers who specialize in business compliance, but officials admit there isn't enough bandwidth to check up on individual cases.
"We can't enforce every action. We really depend on the public to take actions to protect everyone," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health officer. "Every single person in the county, every single sector, every single business, we all have to come together."
The order is in effect until it is modified or rescinded by the county health officer.
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