San Mateo County cracks down in fight against COVID-19 with new compliance unit

DALY CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- San Mateo County launched its new COVID-19 compliance team Monday. A team of 8 people, hired by the county, will enforce the health department's mask and social distancing requirements.

"The county's invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in billboards, advertising -- we even created a mask mobile that goes from place to place and distributes free masks. So the education part is there. The question then becomes how much can you educate and then what do you do with the 1% who say I'm not wearing it," said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.

"We have one gentleman in San Mateo County that has been open since the pandemic. It's a yoga studio. So what do you do when people openly flout the law," Canepa went on to say Monday morning when asked why this team was necessary.

RELATED: Pacifica yoga studio under investigation after hosting 'mask free, virus-free' classes for months
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A hot yoga studio in Pacifica is under investigation after more than a dozen complaints alleging he has defied local and state COVID-19 health guidelines since April.

One San Francisco resident who shops in San Mateo County said it does feel like masks are optional in some stores.

"I went into a store one time and I forgot (her mask) and I am pro wearing a mask and they just didn't say anything. They looked at me but they didn't say anything to me," Esther Estonina said.
She thinks the compliance team is a good idea.

"There should be a compliance team. I think they should approach them in a diplomatic way, not confrontational, but I think somebody should be enforcing it," she explained.

MORE: These California cities will fine you for not wearing a mask or face covering

Officials said Monday the team will start by sifting through and vetting reports of non-compliance. The team will then issue warnings if necessary.

If needed, the team does have the power to fine a business or individual $3,000.

"To date, the county has fined zero people. But there are some people who are get their attention, we need to take money from their checkbook, to be quite frank with you," Canepa said.

"Our economy is at stake, our health is at stake, and we need to crush this virus and this is the way to do it," he explained.

Residents can report a business or individual by calling 211 or visiting the county's website here.

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