LA County Sheriff: Deputies will not enforce Gov. Newsom's stay-at-home order at businesses

Deputies in Los Angeles County are not expecting to go all-out in enforcement at businesses if -- or when -- Governor Gavin Newsom's new stay-at-home order kicks in for Southern California.

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva explained enforcement at businesses is the health department's job, not his deputies.

"I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can," Villanueva said.

The county's sheriff understands these businesses have been through a lot during the pandemic.

"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," Villanueva told FOX 11's Bill Melugin.

Villanueva said LASD's focus instead will be to crack down on super-spreader events.

Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Newsom unveiled what he called a drastic and necessary action to slow the spread of COVID-19 across California. Gov. Newsom announced that new stay-at-home orders will take effect when hospital capacity begins to run dangerously low.


California is now being divided up into five separate regions based on hospital networks. FOX 11's viewing area is in the Southern California network, which stretches from San Luis Obispo to San Diego.

Here's how ICU bed capacity currently looks for all those regions*:

  • Northern California: 18.6% ICU capacity
  • Bay Area: 25.4% ICU capacity
  • Greater Sacramento: 22% ICU capacity
  • San Joaquin Valley: 19.7% ICU capacity
  • Southern California: 20.6% ICU capacity

*= information taken from California Department of Public Health.

Right now, Southern California is at 20.6% ICU capacity. When that number drops to below 15%, which is expected in a matter of days, we will be placed under a mandatory stay-at-home order.

"We want to mitigate mixing, period. Full stop," Gov. Newsom said during Thursday's press conference.

What will the stay-at-home order look like? Bars, wineries, personal services like hair salons and barbershops will all be forced to close. Schools with waivers can stay open and so can critical infrastructure. Retail can stay open at 20% capacity. 

All restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery -- no more outdoor dining.

Gov. Newsom's new order officially goes into effect on Saturday, December 5 at 1 p.m. Once a region falls below the 15% threshold, the region will have 24 hours to implement the stay-at-home order.

The California Governor is threatening to pull pandemic relief dollars away from any county refusing to comply with his new orders.

"If you’re unwilling to enforce the rules, if you’re unwilling to adopt the protocols to support the mitigation, and the reduction and spread of this disease, we’re happy to redirect those dollars to counties that feel differently," Gov. Newsom said. "That’s exactly what we’ve done."

RELATED: California Governor Gavin Newsom announces new stay-at-home order


Back in LA County, Villanueva said he found out about the new order from Gov. Newsom's press conference. The LA County Sheriff said there was no coordination.

"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," he said.

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayum issued the following statement regarding Gov. Newsom's order:

"Our approach to enforcement of the continuously evolving health orders has not changed from the onset of the pandemic. Our approach is one of educating the public of the health orders and encouraging compliance with them. Enforcement has always been an option for our staff to use with considerable discretion. However, our primary goal is to seek voluntary compliance whenever possible."

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says it has no intent on using its deputies to respond to calls for service about Gov. Newsom's health orders.

SBSD released the following statement in part:

"As has been the case since we were initially faced with the difficulties of living and working through this pandemic together, our goal is to educate and gain voluntary compliance regarding Public Health orders. We will continue to partner with our communities and deliver the law enforcement services they deserve while keeping health and safety of our staff and those we serve as a top priority."

Both sheriffs from Orange and Riverside counties pointed us to their previous statements about refusing to enforce the governor's curfew order.

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