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Hotlines set up to report non-essential businesses still open in SLO County

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Posted at 11:55 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 06:26:26-04

Hotlines are being set up in San Luis Obispo County to report non-essential businesses that are still open.

This comes as the county reinforces the importance of the stay at home order and social distancing.

"Working with the seven cities, we have developed an enforcement protocol that emphasizes voluntary compliance," explained San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer, Wade Horton. "In the event a local business refuses to comply, administrative and or civil action will be taken by the county."

The county says businesses that violate the order could face misdemeanor charges punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail or both.

"I think that's a reasonable thing to do given the set of circumstances and what's going on right now and the level of concern some people are expressing and others aren't," said San Luis Obispo County resident Joe Corneilus.

"I definitely think it would be causing more stress for the police department, but I think it's a good idea if we are seeing people that need to be practicing social distancing that we use [the hot-line]," Jacob Espana, San Luis Obispo County resident said.

The county will be directing the reports to the respective cities.

"We trust that with a good partnership with the businesses and the community that everybody will hopefully cooperate with the shelter at home order to make it to where violations don't need to be reported," James Blattler, Public Information Officer for the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department said.

But just in case, the city of San Luis Obispo has set up its own hot-line as well.

"It's phone tree that will give four options and a summary of what to pick for each option. It'll be if you're a business owner if you're an essential business, if you're a member of the public that wants to know if a business is open, or if you need to report a violation if gives an opportunity for that as well," Blattler explained.

The enforcement hotlines will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The county say it will research all complaints but it is unable to call back the person who made the report to update them on the status of the investigation.

The county's hotline is (805) 788-2222 and the city of San Luis Obipo's hotline is (805) 783-7835.

To find out what qualifies as an essential business, click here.