With Tracy residents under orders to stay at home as much as possible, the Tracy Police Department is hoping to educate the community before resorting to citations for those who disobey.

Capt. Alex Neicu acknowledged Wednesday that the stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19 and San Joaquin County’s Public Health Services and Office of Emergency Services two days later required a major change in everyone’s life.

He said the police department had been in contact with neighboring law enforcement agencies, and they all share a similar outlook.

“Consistently we have the same message, we try to educate, we try to remind,” Neicu said. “The overall theme is education and it is the preferred tool.”

The county’s order is mandatory, and those who do not follow it are guilty of a misdemeanor crime and could face a fine or jail time.

The order states everyone must “at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence,” not counting people who live in the same household. That applies even to people whose jobs are considered essential and who are exempt from the requirement to stay home.

Neicu said Tracy police had not issued any warnings or citations for violating the stay-at-home orders as of Wednesday, but they had received a number of complaints. Some residents have called to report businesses they thought should be closed, but which were actually classified as essential and therefore exempt. Others have reported groups of people out for a walk who turned out to be families who live together.

“If there is a family walking around, that is not a violation,” he said.

The department has also fielded questions from people uncertain about how to follow the stay-at-home orders.

While the county’s order is enforceable, the police are relying on education and social pressure to keep people accountable for staying in when they can and obeying the rules of social distancing when they need to be out in public — whether to exercise, restock the pantry, or travel to and from critical jobs.

“The City of Tracy is working under the direction of the Governor,” City Manager Jenny Haruyama said in a written statement this week. “We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our community. Here in Tracy, we are encouraging voluntary compliance with the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order through business outreach, public education and social pressure. We are all in this together and we are encouraged to see our community rising to the challenge and working together to fight the spread of COVID-19.”

More information is available on the state’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Tracy residents who have questions, comments or concerns related to COVID-19 can put in a Government Outreach Request through the GORequest app or the city’s website. The city also has a growing collection of COVID-19 information for residents.

Tracy Police Department can be reached at www.tracypd.com or 831-6550.

Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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