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Manhattan Beach to Begin Fines For Failure To Wear Face Covering

Jul 16, 2020 07:18AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A sign posted at Polliwog Park over the weekend

Face mask avoiders: Your time is up. That's the message that the Manhattan Beach City Council aims to send to those who eschew mandates to wear face coverings in public places.

The council on Tuesday night voted, 4-1, to begin issuing citations to anyone who violates the emergency face covering order - i.e., a person who is not wearing a face covering in public when in proximity to others not in their own household. 

The citations will begin at $100 for first-time offenders, $200 for the second violation, and $350 for all subsequent violations.

“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," said Mayor Richard Montgomery in a statement. "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. If we do not take this action, Governor Gavin Newsom could expand businesses sector closures and thereafter, close our treasured beaches once again. We want to do the right thing and be proactive to avoid additional negative consequences.”

At Tuesday night's meeting, City Council members expressed frustration about both residents and visitors ignoring relentless messaging about the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 - especially during a time when infection rates are rising.

"Everyone knows they’re supposed to have them, everyone knows they’re supposed to wear one," said council member Steve Napolitano. "They should have it on them at all times. There’s no excuse."

"The days of excuses are over," agreed Montgomery. "I guarantee you people will start paying attention when you hit their pocketbook."

The lone dissenting vote was Suzanne Hadley, who argued that the fine should be lower for first-time offenders. She said that the fine should be $53, or equivalent to a parking ticket, due to people's precarious financial situations during the pandemic.

Other jurisdictions have already been issuing fines for non-compliance. Santa Monica issues fines of $100, $250, and then $500 for not wearing a mask. In Beverly Hills, fines are $100, $200, and $500, respectively. In West Hollywood, first-time offenders face a $300 fine.

Face Covering Requirements

The Los Angeles County mask requirement calls for individuals to wear a face covering "over both the nose and mouth whenever they leave their place of residence and are or can be in contact with or walking near or past others who are non-household members in both public and private places, whether indoors or outdoors."

Manhattan Beach's emergency order gives the following exceptions:
  • Anyone younger than two years old;
  • Anyone with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • Anyone who is hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; and
  • Anyone who is swimming or engaged in other water-based activities.
People who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service are required to wear a cloth face covering over both the nose and mouth, unless they are eating or drinking.

The emergency order gives the city manager authority to "deputize additional persons" to carry out the order. City staff said that code enforcement and community service officers are already stretched thin, but there could be a possibility of having outside security vendors receive training required to issue citations.

Note: Need a face covering? Here's where you can get masks in Manhattan Beach - and support local merchants in the process.

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