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Boise Police On Enforcement Of COVID-19 Social Distancing: 'We Refer Them To The IDHW Hotline'

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With the number of COVID-19 cases in the Gem State continuing to climb, there has been plenty of debate regarding Idaho’s enforcement of social distancing, or the lack of it, particularly when it comes to local  businesses.

In Boise, during last week’s City Council meeting, Councilmember Lisa Sanchez told her fellow council members about possible social distancing violations, including a business that employs non-English speaking workers.

“The most recent one is an employer in Boise whose staff is comprised primarily of immigrants and refugees,” said Sanchez. “The person reported it to BPD.”

But Boise Police Deputy Chief Ron Winegar said BPD had been instructed by the City of Boise’s legal department to forward such complaints to the State Department of Health and Welfare.

“We’ve encouraged our officers not to make contact unless they need to. When we get the calls about people not social distancing or businesses staying open when they shouldn’t, we’ve been directed, actually by city legal, to have those folks who call in those kind of complaints, we refer them to Department of Health and Welfare’s hotline,” Winegar told the council.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said Governor Brad Little’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders had superseded the city’s orders; so it was up to the state to enforce them.

“These orders only work when the government agencies that issue them is willing to enforce,” said McLean. “It’s really important to protect our community by ensuring that some sort of enforcement or follow-up is taking place.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s COVID-19 Hotline is 1-888-330-3010.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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