Black Friday: Santa Clara County retailers face steep fines, strict enforcement of COVID-19 rules

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- While scenes from past Black Fridays will definitely not repeat themselves this year, public health officials in Santa Clara County are still not taking any chances.

They are sending out a strong message to retailers - break COVID-19 rules, face fines.

COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: The safest, most dangerous things to do this holiday season

"Because the risk is so high with so many people looking forward to Black Friday deals, for many this is an annual tradition. We're not trying to get in the way of that, we're just trying to make sure you take part in it safely," said Betty Duong with Santa Clara County Department of Health.

That means doubling down on their enforcement strategy. In the past, the county gave businesses a chance to correct their behavior and have their fines waived. Starting this Thursday, that's not happening.

"Enforcement this weekend will be citations, there will be no grace period, we will be deploying our officers to popular shopping destinations," added Duong.

The county didn't say how many officers would be deployed, only that they will cover the entire county. Officers will be visiting plazas, malls and big box stores. And fines will be handed out on the spot.

"Some fines are $250, some are ranging in $500s, it can go into the thousands," said Duong, who insisted that it's not their intention to collect fines. Instead, they want businesses to comply, especially when it comes to masks, social distancing and limiting capacity.

"They have will never demand payment on site, they'll never ask for credit card information or personal information. They will issue the citation, provide their information, show you their badge and then move along to the next inspection," said Duong.

After 10 months of an education-first approach, Duong said the county needs businesses to do their part.

"Now at the height of the third peak, We can't take any chances."

The county is also asking for the public's help in reporting any business that breaks the rules this week. You can go here to report a violation or learn more about the county's safety guidelines.

Get information on what businesses are open, how to operate your business safely, guidance for workers and customers during COVID-19, and reporting positive COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County, here.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.