Elk Grove Police Chief Tim Albright on March 24 publicly addressed concerns over how authorities will enforce Sacramento County’s “stay-at-home” order that wants residents to remain home as much as possible during the coronavirus situation.

He stressed that officers will primarily educate the public about the Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye’s order that was issued on March 19 and is scheduled to last until April 7.  

“Our goal is to provide our community members and visiting public with a safe environment wherein we are all working together to limit the spread of the virus and flatten the curve,” Albright said in a press statement.

Under the “stay-at-home” order, residents can leave their homes to engage in what county officials call essential activities such as grocery shopping, visiting medical centers, attending a gathering of less than seven people at a home, and exercising in the outdoors.  Businesses and public agencies that provide essential services are also allowed to remain open.

The county’s order also enables law enforcement agencies across the county to become involved in preventing the spread of the virus. They also have the authority to issue citations to those who repeatedly violate the order.

Albright said that his police staff was told to “not engage in a proactive enforcement related to the order at this time.”

The police chief also noted that officers will continue their routine police work, and he emphasized they will not randomly stop people to see if they are following the county’s order.

In their press statement, the police said that a curfew is not in effect.

Elk Grove police spokesperson Jason Jimenez told the Citizen that officers have not issued citations to suspected violators, to date. He also said they are patrolling open and closed businesses.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones recorded a Facebook video on March 24 to also dispel rumors about his staff demanding documentation from residents to prove they are traveling to essential sites.

“No vehicle stop is going to be predicated on trying to determine whether you are trying to be out for an essential reason or not,” the sheriff said.

Jones mentioned that law enforcement officers can still issue citations for violations.

“I’m here to tell you I don’t want to take anybody to jail or give anyone a citation for (committing) a misdemeanor,” he said. “But it is out there and if things get worse or there is repeated non-compliance with some of the order, it is something I or the other law enforcement agencies in the county could do.”

The sheriff also countered rumors that the California National Guard plans to enforce a curfew or install checkpoints. Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 20 deployed Guardsmen and women to help distribute food at the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services warehouse.

Jones said that that the National Guard is only there to support the food banks.  

The sheriff said that the public is generally following the county’s “stay-at-home” order.

“Right now, from our observation, everyone seems to be doing the right things for the right reasons,” he said.

When residents can leave their homes

Sacramento County’s “stay-at-home” order allows residents to only leave their homes if they are traveling to what county officials consider to be “essential” activities or sites. Here are their examples:    

• Stores that sell essential household items such as food, cleaning supplies, and groceries.

• Health care centers and stores that sell medical supplies

• Residents are welcome to walk, hike, ride bicycles, or run as long as they stay at least six feet away from others.

• Businesses, public agencies, or nonprofits that provide essential services or products.

• Caring for a relative or a pet in another household.

• Private gatherings of less than seven non-relatives at a household. County officials advise people to still practice social distancing at these gatherings.