As the coronavirus crisis drags on, people who operate small businesses which are deemed "non-essential" in Fontana are faced with a horrible choice:
Should they shut down, causing possible financial ruin for themselves and their employees? Or should they disobey California's mandate and stay open, potentially contributing to a public health disaster?
Officials at the local and state levels say there really is no choice: these businesses must close their doors until further notice.
Nevertheless, the anguish is real for many business owners.
"Not everyone can afford to sit in their couches for two months and still be expected to pay the bills and afford groceries," an anonymous person told the Herald News.
A check of the Fontana area this past week revealed that some nail salons, car washes, tattoo shops, phone stores and other non-essential businesses continued to remain open.
In response, some San Bernardino County residents have asked county officials how they can report business owners who are failing to comply with the state's commands.
"If you believe a business or facility is violating the Health Officer Orders, please go to https://bit.ly/2Kl49Mx to complete a form that will give us the information needed to follow up and investigate or call the COVID-19 hotline at (909) 387-3911 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday," the county said in a news release.
"We hope to avoid penalties and instead rely on common sense and good judgment of business owners to act in the best interests of their employees and the community at large."
Since March 17, the county's Department of Public Health has sent more than 650 letters advising non-essential businesses to close or alter operations after receiving complaints about them operating in violation of health orders. Most of these businesses have complied with the orders, the county said.
For offenders who continue to willfully disregard the public health orders, complaints will be forwarded to the S.B. County Fire Marshal and Code Enforcement for follow-up investigations.