Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced on Thursday that his department will no longer respond to calls over social gatherings and masks under Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent stay-at-home order.
Newsom issued a lockdown order scheduled to go into effect on Saturday night to combat the coronavirus. Responding to the announcement, Barnes stated that his department would not be responding rigorously to calls concerning masking or crowd sizes as the task force is already being stretched to its limits.
“Earlier today, the Orange County sheriff’s department became aware of a limited Stay at Home Order that Governor Newsom’s office ordered to go into effect on Saturday, November 21 at 10 PM,” Barnes said in a statement.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has taken an education-first approach with regard to the public health orders. We are currently assessing the action by the governor. At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls for service, deputies will not be responding to requests for face-coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement.”
In counties with the highest warning levels of COVID cases, all activities and businesses deemed nonessential are to be banned between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The restrictions are to last through Dec. 21 or longer, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Newsom stated, “The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm. It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We’ve done it before and we must do it again.”
Newsom has been the subject of public backlash after appearing to violate his own regulations when attending a birthday party on Nov. 6. With dozens of others present.