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Q&A: Are police pulling over drivers to enforce shelter-in-place orders?

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Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights Police Department issued a news release Saturday advising that officers in the city as well as countywide are encouraging voluntary compliance with shelter-in-place orders and are not out stopping vehicles to determine if health orders are being followed.

The news release answered a question some residents have had regarding whether health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are being enforced by police.

Local police said law enforcement leaders have been working together to ensure safety during ongoing virus mitigation efforts. “Our main focus is to educate our public on the key points of the current orders, encourage voluntary compliance, and model proper virus mitigation strategies throughout all our cities and unincorporated county,” police said.

A county health order that went into effect Friday directs all individuals to “stay at their place of residence except for essential activities,” along with maintaining social distancing “of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence.”

The department said residents have “responded admirably” in limiting non-essential activity.

“Sacramento County law enforcement is still patrolling our streets to prevent traffic violations and respond to crimes, but we are not stopping vehicles or people to ask if they are following the Health Orders,” Citrus Heights Police Chief Ronald Lawrence said in Saturday’s statement. “We believe our communities will do the right thing without our intervention and work together to fight the spread of this virus by complying with the Health Orders.”

Coronavirus: Citrus Heights declares state of emergency

The latest county order prohibits all public and private gatherings, but clarifies that “nothing in this order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit.” The order also says “all in-dining at restaurants should cease, with the exception of home delivery and takeout.”

County officials said the order is necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus and will be in effect until April 7, unless amended by the county’s Health Officer. The full order can be viewed online at

Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order for all Californians on Thursday, with the exceptions of essential activities like grocery shopping and employment within 16 “critical infrastructure sectors” that include the communications sector, certain manufacturing jobs, emergency services, energy, food/agriculture, government, transportation, financial services and other jobs. A full list is published at

In Saturday’s statement, Chief Lawrence also called on residents to stay calm, adhere to health orders, and “take a measured approach to how we react without allowing fear to drive our decisions.”

“Together we will prevail,” he said.

As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 15,219 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 201 deaths. In Sacramento County there have been 53 confirmed cases and three deaths associated with COVID-19.

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