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BOISE — During its first two weeks enforcing COVID-19 mandates, the city of Boise has issued four citations and made one arrest, while no businesses have had their licenses suspended for noncompliance.

On Nov. 23, the city launched a campaign to crack down on offenders of city mandates to slow spread of COVID-19, such as mask requirements and business capacity and sanitation requirements.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Lauren McLean said the program is “designed to keep businesses open so that our economy can continue to function.”

“We’re doing this in partnership with businesses,” she said. “Most businesses are working hard to be in compliance because they, too, know that’s how they protect the health of their employees and how they (stay) open.”

The city is enforcing the program in two ways. First, businesses can call the city’s non-emergency dispatch line and request assistance in dealing with a non-compliant customer, who they can also request be charged be trespassing. Second, a citizen can call the city clerk’s office to inform on a non-compliant business, after which city officers will investigate and may suspend the business’ license.

Data collected between Nov. 23 and Dec. 8 shows that 78 businesses requested assistance, followed by just four citations and one arrest.

“Most of the time when the police are notified and they respond to a call, the individual has left already, or when the police arrive, the individual leaves or (officers) gain compliance,” said Lynda Lowry, director of Boise’s Department of Finance and Administration.

Additionally, 53 businesses were inspected following citizen complaints.

“We’re proud to say that we have not had to suspend any licenses up to this point,” Lowry said.

Lowry said investigating officers can’t always confirm a violation. Typically, they will talk to a manager and ensure they understand the city’s rules. Officers may conduct a second inspection to ensure the rules are being followed.

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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