SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up enforcement following a meeting with public health officials about the surge in coronavirus cases and violations of the health order. Summit County is currently in Level Orange: High Risk Safer at Home according to the COVID dial for Colorado.
“If you look at our COVID numbers they’re not going down, they’re going up. They’re spiking so this was an effort to try and see what else we could do, or what are the gaps to try to bring about education enforcement in the community to reduce numbers,” Said Summit County Sheriff, Jamie FitzSimons
On Friday, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office rehired two seasonal rangers for the winter, originally hired to work in the summer, dedicated to investigating public health order violations. FitzSimons says it’s the first time his office has had anyone exclusively attached to enforcing it.
“We have a few businesses in unincorporated Summit County, but we have a lot of short-term rental business, so we’ll probably be doing a lot of focus there,” he said.
For vacation rentals, the public health order states no more than 10 people in one unit and no more than two households. There’s also a county-wide curfew in place: no public or private gatherings are allowed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and restaurants must close by 9:30 p.m.
Parties have been among some of the top complaints and with the holidays approaching, officials worry large gatherings will continue.
FitzSimons says his office has previously handed out numerous warnings for violations, never a citation, but that could soon change.
“There absolutely could be citations associated with it, but I guess what I would say is we now have a more focused approached because we now have people specifically assigned to work with public health,” he said.
While it’s unlikely anyone would face large fines or jail time, a citation would mean a court date. Whether or not you face a fine? That’s up to a judge.
As ski season begins in earnest with more ski areas opening across Colorado, calls for violations likely will too, but with the sheriff’s office on board, Summit County Public Health is now better equipped to respond.
Summit County Public Health has a dedicated number to report violations: 970-668-8600. Click here for more details on the public health order.