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Not wearing a mask could cost you hundreds in Westside as officials pledge enforcement

A man wearing a face covering crosses San Vicente Blvd. at Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood
A man wearing a face covering crosses San Vicente Blvd. at Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. Sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood said they’ll begin fining people spotted without a face covering in public.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Not wearing a mask will soon cost you in some Westside cities.

The West Hollywood sheriff’s station announced this week that deputies will issue citations to those who are not following the statewide coronavirus health order to don face coverings while in public or high-risk settings.

Those citations will cost $300 for a first offense, according to the sheriff’s station.

In Santa Monica, first time offenders will be charged $100 and the third offense will cost $500, the city said on Thursday in a media release.

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Since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the mask order June 18, station officials said they have focused on educating residents about the requirement. Enforcement through citation was considered a “last option,” but officials have now determined “the risk to community health is too great,” according to a community bulletin.

“We ask our community to please wear a face cover/mask while in public in an effort to keep everyone healthy and control the spread of the virus,” officials wrote.

The issue of enforcement has been an open question since Newsom announced the statewide mask mandate.

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While health officials say wearing face coverings is a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19 — as they can help keep those who are infected from spreading the disease to others — some local governments and county-level law enforcement agencies said they would not enforce the requirement.

Since shortly after the coronavirus outbreak began, Gov. Gavin Newsom has faced criticism from some over his ample use of executive authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State and county officials have largely emphasized education, rather than enforcement, to encourage compliance with coronavirus-related rules.

However, as the situation has drastically deteriorated in recent weeks, California officials are sounding the alarm that more must be done to stave off disastrous spikes in infections that could overwhelm hospitals and result in more deaths.

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“Everyone should be wearing your face covering. I’m not asking you; I’m telling you,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday.

“If there’s no mask, there should be no service in any of the places where we shop, where we work,” he said. “If you’re in contact with another person, wear that mask as a way of saying, ‘I care about you.’”

Newsom on Wednesday took action to halt visits to indoor restaurants, bars, wineries and tasting rooms, entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos, museums and card rooms for the next three weeks in regions hit hard by the virus.

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While Sacramento will still lean on local governments to enforce coronavirus restrictions, Newsom also said the state has formed a multiagency strike team to go after noncompliant businesses.

“Why have rules, why have regulations, why have laws if you’re not willing to enforce? One must be willing. So it’s targeted. It’s where there are abuses,” he said.

Times staff writers Taryn Luna and Phil Willon contributed to this report.


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