SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced that it can now use the Northern Branch Jail.
The office said it transferred 244 inmates from the Main Jail to the Northern Branch Jail in Santa Maria earlier Saturday.
The transfer will help reduce the population at the Main Jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The 244 inmates were tested for COVID-19 and given N95 masks before moved to the new location.
Work on the Northern Branch Jail was finished in November but it was just approved for occupancy Saturday.
“Seeing the Northern Branch Jail finally occupied is like watching a ship being launched from dry dock," said Sheriff Bill Brown. "There have been many challenges and delays during the construction process and due to the pandemic, but, because of the efforts of many people, the vessel is finally underway."
The County Sheriff's Office also said due to COVID-19 restrictions, inmate visitation has been suspended indefinitely at both jail facilities.