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LA County Sheriff Says He Won't Enforce Newsom's New Business Orders

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The sheriff of Los Angeles County told KTTV-TV on Thursday that his deputies won’t enforce California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest public health restrictions on small businesses.

Californians are being hit with new rounds of lockdowns at the state and local levels amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Times reported that Newsom, a Democrat, ordered the “strictest new measures since the earliest days of the pandemic in an effort to keep a surge in cases from overwhelming hospitals” on Thursday.

New rules will close outdoor dining, playgrounds and hair salons in much of Southern and Central California.

The measures are expected to last for at least three weeks.

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“If we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said during a news conference, according to The Times. “If we don’t act now we’ll continue to see our death rate climb.”

The order came just a day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asked his city’s residents to “cancel everything,” citing an increase in reported cases of the coronavirus.

But KTTV reporter Bill Melugin reported Thursday evening that LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has no plans to use his agency to enforce Newsom’s latest order.

Villanueva told Melugin that small businesses have been wronged all year and he will not spend any department resources to further punish them.

“NEW: L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tells me his deputies will not take part in enforcing stay at home orders at businesses, which he says have been through enough. He says that’s the health department’s job, and LASD will focus on ‘super spreader’ events instead,” Melugin said on Twitter.

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“I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can,” Villanueva said, according to KTTV. “They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders, and then they have the rug yanked out from under them, that’s a disservice. I don’t want to make their lives any more miserable.”

Melugin further reported that the sheriff was taken back by a lack of coordination between the governor and law enforcement before the latest stay-at-home order was issued.

“Anything that has to do with enforcement, you’ve got to make sure you’re working in partnership with all the people carrying out the enforcement,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said a spike in new cases could be related to the championship celebrations in the area for both MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers as well as Thanksgiving celebrations.

Other California sheriffs also have indicated they won’t enforce Newsom’s latest lockdown order.

“It is not our intent to utilize patrol personnel to respond” to allegations of public health order violations, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s departments in Orange and Riverside counties told Melugin they would not take part in enforcing the new regulations.

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Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor and a producer in radio, television and digital media. He is a proud husband and father.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.