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Manhattan Beach will fine those not wearing masks in public, the latest city to do so

Manhattan Beach police patrol near the pier on July 3.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Those who don’t wear a face covering in public will now face citations and fines in Manhattan Beach.

The move, authorized under an emergency order that went into effect Wednesday, comes as California continues to see record levels of coronavirus infection and officials stress that residents must do their part to stymie the spread of the virus.

“The drastic increase in positive COVID-19 cases in our city and around Los Angeles County have shown us that additional measures must be taken to make it clear to the public that face coverings are essential right now,” Mayor Richard Montgomery said in a statement Thursday. “The time for warnings is over. Face coverings must be worn when you are outside of your home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Under the order, failing to wear a face covering is subject to an administrative citation — with fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $350 for each one after that.

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As of Thursday, there had been 217 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Manhattan Beach and four deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The city’s order stipulates that “all persons shall wear a cloth face covering over both the nose and mouth whenever they leave their place of residence” except for children younger than 2, those who are hearing impaired or communicating with someone who is, and those with disabilities or medical or mental health conditions that prevent them from wearing masks.

Masks also don’t have to be worn when swimming or engaging in other water-based activities.

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“If we do not take this action, Gov. Gavin Newsom could expand business sector closures and thereafter, close our treasured beaches once again,” Montgomery said. “We want to do the right thing and be proactive to avoid additional negative consequences.”

Putting on masks in public has been required in Los Angeles County since mid-May. On June 18, Newsom ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care.

Though 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 — the mandates have proven controversial, with some residents and business owners objecting on personal or political grounds.

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Mask-wearing in public has become an increasingly pressing and politicized issue as the economy reopens and cases surge across the nation.

Enforcement has also remained an open question. Some local governments and county-level law enforcement agencies have said they would not enforce mask requirements and instead focus on educating the public to encourage compliance.

Manhattan Beach isn’t alone in taking the opposite tack, though. Other cities — including West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills — have also said face-covering scofflaws will be subject to citations and fines.

Capt. Edward Ramirez of the West Hollywood sheriff’s station said Friday that deputies so far “have issued a total of 12 citations to people without masks” in the city.

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“That said, each person cited was provided a mask to wear by deputy personnel,” he wrote in an email.

Beverly Hills spokesman Keith Sterling said one citation has been issued there so far.

“Our code enforcement and police officers have had hundreds of contacts with the public in recent days and most have complied when educated about our face covering rules,” he wrote in an email Friday.

West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Monterey have announced plans to fine people who don’t cover their faces to protect against COVID-19.

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This isn’t the first time residents and visitors in Manhattan Beach have faced potential fines if they don’t follow coronavirus-related health orders.

Authorities issued 129 citations and shut down four construction projects in early April for violations related to social distancing.

A surfer in the city also was fined $1,000 in March after he was accused of ignoring warnings by police and lifeguards not to go in the water.


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