Citing the economic, emotional and spiritual toll of the coronavirus pandemic on his constituents, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells wants his city's police force to stop enforcing closure orders and other public health restrictions on non-essential businesses.
"The people of El Cajon are suffering, and it is highly unfair and nonsensical that big box stores, grocery stores, club stores and now even schools are open while nail salons, restaurants, churches, other businesses and organizations are shuttered," Wells said in a Facebook post shared Thursday.
Wells called a special city council meeting on Friday to discuss the proposal.
Businesses are still waiting on reopening guidance from the state now that San Diego County is off the coronavirus watch list. While some schools have been granted reopening waivers by the county, the majority will be able to reopen Sept. 1 if there are less than 100 cases per 100,000 residents every day until then.
Wells said his police department's time is valuable and should not be spent enforcing mask and social distancing policies, or closure orders at businesses that have not yet been given the go-ahead to reopen.
Masks and social distancing are actions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the public take to slow COVID-19 transmission, and both are required at businesses countywide.
According to county data published Aug. 26, El Cajon's 1,717.5 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents is fourth-highest in the county behind Chula Vista, National City and Spring Valley. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 102,708 as of July 1, 2019.
El Cajon's 1,813 total cases make up 4.9% of the county's 37,222 cases to date
Wells said the impact of the pandemic on El Cajon residents is about more than the local economy.
"Many are enduring severe depression, anxiety, isolation and many other emotional, spiritual and sociological deprivations as a result of this stunning governmental overreach," Wells said.
The mayor acknowledged the state and county could impose fines or file criminal charges on violators.
The special city council meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.