Calabasas to start fining people for not wearing masks, have deputies break up parties that risk coronavirus spread

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This file photo shows masks displayed on a clothesline for sale in the front yard of a house in Los Angeles on July 20, 2020. (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

This file photo shows masks displayed on a clothesline for sale in the front yard of a house in Los Angeles on July 20, 2020. (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

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Calabasas on Monday became the latest city in Los Angeles County to begin fining people for not wearing masks in public and officials said they are adopting “a zero tolerance policy” towards parties amid the pandemic.

Those seen in public without a face covering can get a $100 fine for the first offense, according to city officials.

“We do not want to do this, but we have to start taking this mask order seriously.” Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub said in an online message. “Many people do take it seriously and wear face coverings and we thank you, but many others choose not to and the complaints coming into City Hall are rising by the day.”

The Calabasas City Council voted to enforce the requirement for residents and visitors without masks while inside businesses, or anywhere they can’t maintain at least 6 feet from others of different households.

Manhattan Beach, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have all announced fines for people not wearing masks amid the pandemic.

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, has said that the U.S. could get the pandemic “under control” within eight weeks if everybody wore a mask.

In addition to the new fines on mask use, the Calabasas mayor said L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies in Calabasas will also be “immediately” breaking up any large gatherings that can endanger public health, and those hosting may face financial penalties.

“Previously, the Sheriff was giving warnings and telling hosts that this cannot happen again. The warning period has ended and the Sheriff understands that all parties are to be broken up immediately,” Weintraub said.

She urged residents to report large gatherings to the Sheriff’s Department.

The code doesn’t specify how many people must be in attendance for the party to classify as a large gathering, and deputies will be making the decision based on if they see people not social distancing or wearing masks, said Lt. Greg Evans of the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station.

The lieutenant said hosts could get a citation for a public disturbance, but the station is still working out a civil procedure for enforcing the relevant section of Calabasas municipal code.

“Under the Calabasas Municipal Code, the Sheriff is allowed to end any unruly gathering, defined to include any gathering that threatens public health,” Weintraub said. “Gatherings that are held in violation of the state, county and city COVID-19 related Safer at Home Orders is a gathering that threatens public health.”

Under L.A. County’s health officer order, large events and gatherings of any size remain prohibited, including family gatherings.

The Sheriff’s Department said no other city in the Malibu/Lost Hills Station’s jurisdiction has authorized a crackdown on private gatherings, it is unknown if they will. Other areas patrolled by the station include Agoura Hills, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village, Malibou Lake, Topanga and West Hills.

Health Director Barbara Ferrer said earlier this month that several COVID-19 outbreaks were traced to parties and family gatherings as the county saw a spike in coronavirus infections.

The Los Angeles Police Department previously noted a rise in house parties in the Hollywood Hills after the stay-at-home order shuttered bars and clubs. The department said hosts could face a citation and up to six months in jail.

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