Santa Monica allows citations of up to $500 to individuals, $1,000 to businesses for failure to wear masks

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Santa Monica city officials on Thursday allowed citations to be issued to people not wearing masks while around others, though it remains unclear how strictly local police will enforce the order.

The city updated its health order to authorize administrative citations for failure to wear face coverings as coronavirus infections surged countywide.

Individuals seen without a mask can face $100 fines for a first violation, $250 the second time and $500 for a third violation, according to a city news release.

For businesses, the administrative citations are $500 for a first violation, $750 for the second and $1,000 for a third violation.  

City spokeswoman Constance Farrell told KTLA the order will be enforced, but didn’t clarify whether Santa Monica Police Department officers will be the ones issuing citations. The department could not be reached for comment.

“We hope that given the increase in cases and hospitalizations, people will understand the essential nature of face coverings and wear them to protect others and themselves,” Farrell said.

(City of Santa Monica)
(City of Santa Monica)

The new addition to the city’s emergency declaration applies to those seen with their faces uncovered near others in public or private settings, including in hallways, stairways, elevators and parking facilities.

People have to wear masks when working, protesting, shopping, seeking care at a hospital, standing in line to enter any business, inside a government building and when waiting for or riding on public buses and trains, or ride-sharing vehicles.

“A face covering must be visible and ready to be immediately put on whenever a moving person approaches within 30 feet of a non-household member,” Santa Monica officials said.

Businesses can refuse service to any person who does not wear a face covering or fails to comply with social distancing guidelines, officials said.  

Exempt from the city’s mask rules are children under two years old, those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering, those who are hearing impaired, and people who can’t wear a face covering because it puts them at risk at their jobs.

People don’t have to wear face masks while swimming, surfing, eating at a restaurant (if they’re at least 6 feet away from others), getting a service involving their nose or face, or if they’re seated outdoors and away from others.

Santa Monica’s order is in effect until July 31, 2020. 

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood said they’ll begin fining people spotted without a face covering in public.

West Hollywood’s face mask violation fines carry a $300 price tag for first-time offenders.

The two cities’ announcements come after Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 18 mandated face coverings statewide in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“As public health experts have shared widely this week, we are in a dangerous period with dramatic increases in cases and hospitalizations,” Santa Monica City Manager Lane Dilg said in a written statement. “Face coverings are essential.  I encourage everyone to try different styles to find what works for you.  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.” 

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