Los Angeles residents will face fines of up to $300 if they don’t wear a face covering in public, as cities enforce Governor Gavin Newsom’s mask mandate and cases continue to soar across California.
Authorities across several LA County cities have announced plans to clamp down on people flouting the state’s executive order, which requires Californians to wear masks in public places when social distancing isn’t possible.
Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Monterey have all warned residents they will be hit with hefty fines if caught out and about not covering their faces.
People practice social distancing while waiting in line at Dior in Beverly Hills this week. Los Angeles residents will now face fines of up to $300 if they don’t wear a face covering in public
Authorities across several LA County cities have announced plans to clamp down on people not wearing masks as cases soar across the county and state. People are pictured flocking to a beach in Santa Monica Thursday
The sheriff of the affluent area of West Hollywood has introduced one of the heftiest fines, with a first offense setting people back a total of $300 – $250 plus a $50 fee.
Captain Edward Ramirez of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Station said he had been forced to introduce the financial penalty as a ‘last option’.
‘Our last option was to conduct enforcement by issuing an Administrative Citation, but the risk to Community health is too great,’ he said.
In Santa Monica, residents face fines of $100 for a first offense if they don’t wear a mask or comply with social distancing guidelines.
For a second offense, the cost goes up to $250 and, for a third, $500, while businesses flouting the rules will be hit harder with a $1,000 fine.
Santa Monica’s Interim City Manager Lane Dilg described the city as facing a ‘critical time’ where ‘face coverings are essential.’
‘I encourage everyone to try different styles to find what works for you,’ she said in a statement.
‘But it is a critical time to save lives by wearing face coverings whenever we are outside of our homes and not gathering with people outside of our households.’
Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a mask mandate on June 18 requiring Californians to wear masks in public places when social distancing isn’t possible
Governor Newsom issued a statewide order requiring residents to wear masks in most indoor public areas, as well as outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible, back on June 18 as the number of coronavirus cases rose across the state.
Newsom said he issued the order after too many people were going out in public without face coverings as businesses, restaurants and other sectors of the economy reopen.
The order requires people to wear masks when inside or in line for any indoor public spaces, including hospital and pharmacy visits.
It also applies to ‘high-risk’ situations outdoors such as waiting for or riding public transportation where it’s not possible to stay six feet apart from others.
Workers have to wear masks if their jobs require them to interact with the public, prepare or package food, or share common spaces like hallways and elevators.
Masks are also required in office settings if employees can’t physically distance.
The order includes several exceptions, including for outdoor recreation and exercise such as walking, hiking, running or bicycling.
But if people are doing such activities and cannot maintain the appropriate distance from others, the state says they should also wear masks.
Other exceptions include: Children under 2, people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, people who are hearing impaired or communicate with people who are hearing impaired and people obtaining receiving treatments on their nose and mouth.
A total 248,235 people have tested positive for the virus and 6,263 have been killed in California
As cases surge in LA and other hard-hit areas, Newsom has backtracked on the state’s reopening plans
The state did not mandate how the order would be enforced, leaving counties and cities to take matters into their own hands.
Beverly Hills had already issued a mask mandate back in April and Orange County in late May.
But officials in Orange County later backpedaled on the move after county health officer Dr. Nichole Quick faced a backlash including threats of violence against her over the move.
The county revised its guidance making it no longer mandatory one week later and Quick stood down from the role – before the statewide order made it compulsory once more.
The move to put a financial burden on people ignoring the rules comes days after LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was ‘not asking’ but ‘telling’ residents to wear a mask.
‘Everyone should be wearing your face covering. I’m not asking you; I’m telling you,’ he said during a press conference Wednesday.
‘If there’s no mask, there should be no service in any of the places where we shop, where we work.
‘If you’re in contact with another person, wear that mask as a way of saying, ‘I care about you.’
Garcetti admitted recent protests demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of the ‘murder’ of George Floyd may have led to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Garcetti revealed that LA County health officials believe some of the new COVID-19 cases may have come from large groups of people gathering at rallies.
‘I talked again with [Director of Public Health] Dr Barbara Ferrer about that this morning. She does think some of the spread did come from our protests,’ the mayor said.
Cases have been soaring across LA, with more than 2,100 additional cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday in the county.
More than 1,900 people were hospitalized – the largest number since early May – with 546 in ICU 546, the county reported.
‘Unfortunately, we continue to see negative trends in the data and we urgently need to make a change in the trajectory,’ Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
‘We must make sure we are not unnecessarily spending time outside with others and use this opportunity as a countywide reset. We need everyone’s help.’
Over the last two weeks alone, a staggering 29,444 new cases and 430 deaths have been recorded in the county.
This means the rate of infections is dwarfing one of the key measures being closely watched by state and local officials – that positive cases stand at less than 100 per 100,000 residents.
Based on the latest figures, LA County is well beyond this figure with 292 per 100,000.
LA also has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths of all the state’s 58 counties.
As cases surge in LA and other hard-hit areas, Newsom has backtracked on the state’s reopening plans.
People enjoy outdoor dining in LA. LA also has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths of all the state’s 58 counties
People practise social distancing as they line up for food. Cases have been soaring across LA, with more than 2,100 additional cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday in the county
This week, the governor ordered all bars, indoor restaurant operations and movie theaters to shut down immediately in LA and 18 other counties – nearly three weeks after California bars, stores, restaurants and salons reopened for the first time after a three-month lockdown.
Beaches across LA and Ventura counties have also been closed ahead of July 4 celebrations.
A similar concerning trend has been seen across the wider state, with the number of new cases in California increasing nearly 50 per cent over the last two weeks, with a 43 per cent spike in hospitalizations.
A total 248,235 people have tested positive for the virus and 6,263 have been killed in California.