However, it was not clear in the meeting to what extent the county—both individuals and businesses—was complying. County Judge Mark Keough said the county is “doing an amazing job” but later said the sheriff’s office had followed up on reports of noncompliance.
In a followup interview, the sheriff’s office clarified that as of March 25, the office had received two reports by citizens who believed persons were in violation of the social distancing guidelines. The instances were related to individuals, not businesses, and deputies found both calls to be unfounded, Lieutenant Scott Spencer said in an email.
County District Attorney Brett Ligon said he had received word of a few businesses that were in violation, but there were no citations or issues.
“We’ve contacted those businesses personally [and] told them what the law was,” Ligon said. “We had no arguments after we explained what the law was.”
Both the sheriff’s and DA’s office are urging residents to adhere to guidelines of social distancing. Ligon said anyone who defies the order could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, but law enforcement is hoping to not have to penalize anyone.
“If violations are observed, our first action is to educate them that they are not in compliance with these orders,” Spencer said. “We are instructing our deputies to first appeal to the violators' sense of community. Deputies will have a physical copy of the order to present to individuals who may not be in compliance or lack knowledge on the specifics of these orders. Our ultimate objective it to gain compliance without arrest.”
Law enforcement is using a combination of self-initiated checks on businesses and restaurants as well as responding to reports, Ligon said.