A few days after Riverside County enacted a mandatory mask-in-public law, both San Bernardino County and the city of Los Angeles announced their intention to make masks a requirement to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
San Bernardino’s law, which became active on Wednesday April 8th, will require the public to wear masks, bandannas, handkerchiefs, or other coverings when outside their residence. While N95 masks are allowed, they are advised to not be worn unless they are healthcare workers as they are in short supply in California. Violations will result in a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail.
For the city of Los Angeles, the law goes into effect on Friday. While it’s not a total enforcement situation like San Bernardino or Riverside counties, as people exercising will not be required to wear masks as long as the 6 feet rule is followed. As Los Angeles has so many people, the new mask rule will be self-enforced, with no current plans for fines or other major punishments.
“Our idea is not to be arresting and fining people for the face coverings, just as if tomorrow everybody decided to jaywalk across the street, we wouldn’t have close to enough law enforcement officers or city workers to stop everybody from jaywalking,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a press conference. “This is about self-enforcement mostly.”
Other cities in Southern California are also passing their own mandatory mask laws including Carson and Lancaster, which along with Los Angeles proper, indicate that both Los Angeles County and Orange County may have similar county wide mandatory mask laws within a week.
Northern Californian cities and counties are also currently weighing in on the subject, with many expected to follow Southern California’s lead.
“A lot of counties are going to scramble now,” explained former Santa Clara County health worker Madeline Reeves. “We’ve seen it happen before with various health requirements over the years. And since this is so much more visible, with a possible law enforcement component, you can bet that many more will join in.”
“Southern California is getting these laws done fast, but it’s surprising up here. San Francisco led the charge during the last major epidemic when the Spanish Flu hit in 1918. We had mandatory face masks then. In fact, San Francisco was one of the first to require them. And back then, a lot of places quickly followed their lead too.”
“It’s only a matter of time before we see these mask laws across the state.”
In addition to mandatory masks, affected areas have also been putting mandatory remote church services in place, as there is widespread concern that Easter masses will help spread the coronavirus. And much like Riverside County, San Bernardino and cities passing these ordinances have been facing similar scrutiny violating laws and overstepping their authority.
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