As business owners look forward to reopening their currently shut-down businesses, many of them are becoming well-acquainted with the expectations of their state government. They may, however, find that the expectations of local governments are not as accessible.
Since local governments, such as cities and counties, are in charge of enforcing statewide and local orders, it is important that local elected officials communicate with residents what their enforcement efforts will be. Local officials need to let residents know whether they will be enforcing the governor's reopening plan so that business owners and their employees can make informed decisions about when to reopen.
We already have a few examples of localities that are making sure the public is informed.
Nampa was one of the first cities to do so. On April 24, Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling released a video, in which she stated that the city would be using limited enforcement. Specifically, she stated that “while the city of Nampa is not endorsing that any business open in violation of the governor’s order, our police force will not be issuing criminal citations to businesses that open after May 1.” The only exception, she said, would be if a business “blatantly and unapologetically violates the health district directives” after being warned multiple times — then it could be cited.
Eagle, likewise, has informed its residents of its enforcement efforts. On May 1, Mayor Jason Pierce issued a statement to the public, informing Eagle residents that the city will not be enforcing the governor’s staged plan. Again, the reasoning for limited enforcement is that the city does “not have the resources to shut down businesses that open before the governor’s timeline.”
Additionally, Sheriff Doug Giddings in Idaho County announced that the law enforcement there “will NOT be issuing citations to citizens who are going about their necessary business.” Idaho County has only had three confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 12, yet the rural county is held to the same standard as the rest of the state under the governor’s reopening plan. The sheriff’s office has changed that standard by not pursuing enforcement, which is within its rights to do as a law enforcement agency.
In all cases, elected officials are encouraging businesses to be responsible as they reopen. These local governments encourage business owners to have plans in place to protect themselves, their staff, and their customers. And any savvy business owner knows she needs just that to gain the loyalty and return of her customers during these unusual times.
If you would like to know whether or not your city or county will be enforcing the reopening plan, reach out to your local elected officials. Call your city councilors, county commissioners, or local police and sheriff departments. Request the information for your own sake, but also ask them to make a public statement about their enforcement efforts so that your fellow residents can be just as informed.