Two California counties threaten $1000 fines for those who don’t wear face coverings in public

Those who appear in public in parts of California without a face covering could now be subject to a $1000 fine.

Riverside County

On April 4, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser issued an order requiring all people appearing in public to wear a face covering to slow the spread of Coronavirus, including “essential workers” like truck drivers

“While more and more Riverside County residents are getting COVID-19, not everybody’s getting the message,” said Dr. Kaiser, “It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change from saying that you should to saying that you must.”

Those who violate the face covering order can be fined $1000 per day.

Face coverings can be bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters or other clothing that does not have visible holes, officials say. County officials are discouraging people from purchasing surgical or N95 masks that are needed by medical professionals.

Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a video conference earlier this week, “This is a valid order and enforceable by fine, imprisonment or both. However, I need to make it perfectly clear to all residents of Riverside County we will not be setting up a police state and this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County.”

Bianco says that two sheriff’s deputies have died from Coronavirus.

San Bernadino County

On April 7, officials in San Bernadino County, California also issued a formal order requiring people to wear face coverings in public places or face a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail.

County officials say that they do not plan to heavily enforce the face covering requirement: “The expectation is that law enforcement will rely upon community members to use good judgment, common sense, and act in the best interests of their own health and the health of their loved ones and the community at large. The imposition of penalties on members of the public who willfully and grossly disregard public health orders by putting others at risk of exposure to this infectious disease is meant as a tool for law enforcement to use as a deterrent.”

Los Angeles

Staring on April 10, Los Angeles Mayor Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered people to wear face covering when entering any essential business like a grocery store or gas station. While the order does not appear to be enforceable by fines, businesses may refuse to serve those who do not abide by this order, Garcetti says.

The city of Laredo, Texas, announced a similar requirement earlier this month. Per that order, any person over the age of 5 who appears in public without a face covering is subject to a $1000 fine.