In today’s media briefing, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal addressed topics including how law enforcement is ensuring businesses comply with reopening guidelines, what it would look like if the county had to pull back from the reopening process, what the sheriff’s office is doing to regulate out-of-state visitors and where he gets his haircut.

Before taking the questions, Honsal mentioned that churches are able to be open this week and some will be choosing to open this weekend, while others remain closed.

Honsal also said that over 100 restaurants in the county have applied for the dine-in application and assured people that the restaurants will have public health inspections.

You can view a brief, rough summary of the questions submitted by local media and Honsal’s responses below, or view Honsal’s full responses in the above video.


(1:58) Can you talk a little about what enforcement will look like during the next phase of reopening? Will there be more law enforcement out and about to ensure businesses are?

Honsal says that checking business compliance is usually complaint-based. The sheriff’s office has not had to issue any citations yet, because businesses have largely been compliant and adhering to the certification process, Honsal said.

(3:11) The public health officer said that the county can always pull back on reopening if circumstances change. What would pulling back look like for Humboldt business? Would businesses already open have to close or would new ones not be allowed to open?

The county does not want to shut down any businesses that are already open. If things were to escalate, the county would slow the reopening process and restrict further businesses from opening. Honsal added that about one sixth of businesses in Humboldt County are opening and many business are choosing not to open, even if they are permitted to do so.

(6:30) On Tuesday you said the free market allows people to choose whether to patronize businesses that require face coverings. What is the sheriff’s office doing to protect the health of people in remote communities where shopping options are limited and stores are not requiring facial coverings?

Honsal said, again, that employees are required to wear facial coverings, but businesses are not required to enforce face coverings for their customers.

“Again, living in a free market, whether you live out in the rural areas or urban, you have the choice to patronize a business that does adhere to your safety standards,” Honsal said. 

(7:37) Where does the correctional facility fit into the reopening process? Is there any idea when you’ll begin accepting inmates again rather than issuing citations and releasing them?

The correctional facility is still taking in and housing inmates for things like DUI or drunk in public, but only keeping people who are violent or are multiple offenders, Honsal said. But he does not know when the process will go back to normal.

“The last thing we want is COVID in our correctional facility, spreading throughout the couple hundred people we have there and getting them infected,” Honsal said.

(9:04) We’ve had reports of out-of-state tourists staying in local hotels. You said that hotels are encouraged to offer lodging only to local residents and people coming in to preform essential services. Is that an enforceable component of the county shelter order? If so, what’s being done to enforce it?

Hotels in some areas are allowing people from out of the area to stay for a night if they are passing through, Honsal said, adding that we don’t want people driving tired on the road.

Honsal also mentioned that, although California has traveling restrictions, Oregon and Nevada do not and borders are not closed. The county does not want people visiting for long periods of time, but it is difficult to control. The sheriff’s office has responded to some complaints and is “doing their best to manage that as they see fit.”

(10:40) The state DMV reopened 46 offices throughout the state this morning and DMV offices are known for getting crowded.  How will the county ensure DMV offices are safe for the public to visit?

The DMV is going to adhere to the state guidelines, Honsal said, adding that he does not think people need to worry. More and more government agencies will be opening up as we move forward and they will all have specific protocols they’ll have to adhere to.

(12:02) Anything else?

The applications for barber shops and salons opened up today and the county will be processing those and posting the date that they can open as soon as possible.

Addressing those who are wondering where Honsal gets his haircuts, he wants everyone to know that he gets them from his wife and has been doing so for years. “I’m not secretly going to a salon somewhere,” he said, jokingly.