February 25, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Sets Fines for Not Wearing Mask

Order also authorizes businesses to refuse service for those not wearing masks

By Sam Catanzaro

The City of Santa Monica has authorized citations for failing to wear face coverings as part of an effort to control increased spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

On Thursday, Interim City Manager and Director of Emergency Services Lane Dilg issued the 20th supplement to Santa Monica’s local emergency declaration strengthening and clarifying requirements for wearing face coverings and setting penalties for those who do not wear them when required.

“As public health experts have shared widely this week, we are in a dangerous period with dramatic increases in cases and hospitalizations,” Dilg said. “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.”

The supplement authorizes administrative citations for failing to wear face coverings, for individuals, as $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation, and $500 for a third violation. For businesses, the administrative citations are $500 for a first violation, $750 for a second violation, and $1,000 for a third violation.

In addition, the order allows businesses can refuse service to any person who does not wear a face covering or fails to comply with social distancing.

“Businesses must also take all reasonable steps to ensure those in line or entering their business wear face coverings and comply with physical distancing requirements,” the City said.

The order, in effect until July 31, clarifies which situations face coverings as required.

  • When individuals are or can be in contact with or walking near or past others who are non-household members in both public and private spaces, including, but not limited to, walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities, meaning that 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;  
  • When patronizing a business, including while standing in line to enter any business;  
  • When obtaining services from healthcare operations, unless otherwise directed by the healthcare provider; 
  • When obtaining services from and while inside or at any location or facility engaging in essential government functions;   
  • When waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle; 
  • When driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present;  
  • When participating in an in-person protest; and  
  • When engaged in work, either at a business or off-site (other than at one’s own residence) and (i) interacting in-person with any member of the public; (ii) working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time; (iii) working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others; (iv) working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities; or (v) in any room or enclosed area where people who are non-household members are present and unable to maintain a minimum six-foot separation from one another. 

Exceptions under the ordinance or as follows:

  • Persons younger than two years old;  
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering; 
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;  
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;  
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;  
  • Persons who are (i) outdoors alone or with household members; (ii) stationary; and (iii) maintaining at least six feet between the edge of the area they are in and the edge of the next closest person’s area;  
  • Persons who are actively engaged in a water-based activity, including, but not limited to, swimming and surfing. 
  • Persons compliant with the County Department of Health’s Protocol for Restaurants Opening for On-Site Dining under which customers who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service are not required to wear face coverings while they are eating or drinking;  
  • Persons wearing personal protective equipment (“PPE”), such as medical-grade N95 respirator or a similar mask that is more protective than a face covering;  
  • Persons compliant with any other reopening protocol issued by the County Department of Health authorizing persons to remove their face coverings.  

Los Angeles County continues to see steep increases in community spread of COVID-19, Public Health says. There are 1,889 people currently hospitalized, 27 percent of these people are in the ICU and 18 percent are on ventilators. This is the largest number of people hospitalized since early May.

On Wednesday, Public Health confirmed 2,002 new cases and 35 new deaths of COVID-19. This is the fourth consecutive day of new cases over 2,000, and today’s number is missing lab reports from one of the larger labs, officials noted.

“I know these closures are frustrating and it is heartbreaking to think we are losing ground. These immediate actions give us a chance to regain control over the increased spread. With steep increases in cases and hospitalizations, it is important to act now to prevent as many future cases, hospitalizations and deaths as we can,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

To date, Public Health has identified 105,507 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 3,402 deaths. In Santa Monica, there have been 414 cases and 29 deaths.

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