During a press conference held Friday around noon, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said one individual — who had dismissed prior warnings — was cited in the past 24 hours for failing to shelter in place, an infraction punishable by fine or even imprisonment.
"Essential activities" have taken on new connotations over the coronavirus pandemic. Per SF's shelter-in-place order, no longer is your stroll to a nearby bookseller or hailing a Lyft to visit a friend-with-benefits deemed necessary. If anything: those tasks, among others, are either currently inexecutable or exist as something of a social taboo. And now, the SF Examiner reports the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) will start citing people and businesses dismissing The City's shelter-in-place order — granted, only after they've been issued a previous warning.
Join us live in a few minutes for an update on COVID-19 from the Emergency Operations Center: https://t.co/yWeSq6uBMc— London Breed (@LondonBreed) April 3, 2020
“The last time I was in front of you I predicted there would come a time where we have to cite,” Scott said in Friday's press conference and public update on SF's COVID-19 response. “That time has come, and we have begun citing.”
Before, SPFD was more adamant about educating the public on what sheltering in place entails and pushing “voluntary compliance.” However, that time has passed — and police will now only warn violators once before issuing a citation.
“I’ll make this very clear, particularly for the business owners in our city,” Scott added. “If we have to go back, we are not going to ask twice.”
The SF Examiner also broke the news that the first individual cited by SFPD for breaking the isolation order was — wait for it; drum roll, please — an elderly anti-abortion advocate who was protesting outside a Planned Parenthood in Bernal Heights. 86-year-old Ronald Konopaski was given a misdemeanor by the on-duty officer.
Scott, too, shared during the live streamed update that both 9-1-1 calls and incidences of crime were significantly down, 20 percent and 26 percent respectively. (Though, as KTVU reports, episodes of domestic violence appear to be on the rise.)
A citation for breaking San Francisco's shelter-in-place order could warrant a misdemeanor charge, in addition to a fine or prison sentence... or both.