LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — LOS ANGELES (CNS) - With coronavirus cases on the rise, Los Angeles County municipalities Thursday began to crack down on residents who defy the statewide requirement that they wear masks while in public.
In West Hollywood, sheriff's Capt. Edward Ramirez issued a statement saying deputies have been working to educate violators about the requirement, but people who refuse could now face fines.
"Beginning this month, we will continue to utilize education and persuasion and hand out face masks, however, we will begin issuing city of West Hollywood Municipal Code citations to people who refuse to follow the face mask order while in public," he said.
"The citation, which is administrative and not criminal, is $250 plus a fee of $50 for a total of $300 for the first offense," he said. "Our very last option is to conduct enforcement by issuing a citation, but the risk to community health is too great. To date, we have not issued any citations and we still hope not to."
In neighboring Santa Monica, a new health order was announced Thursday in an effort to emphasize the need for face coverings. The order outlines the requirement for people to wear face coverings while in public, and for businesses to enforce the requirement for employees and customers.
The revised Santa Monica order sets fines for violators at $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation and $500 for a third. For businesses, the fines start at $500, increasing to $750 for a second violation and $1,000 for a third.
"As public health experts have shared widely this week, we are in a dangerous period with dramatic increases in cases and hospitalizations," Interim City Manager Lane Dilg said in a 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."
The city of Beverly Hills has long been requiring residents to wear masks. It issued a reminder last week, noting that violators can face fines ranging from $100 for the first offense to $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said local businesses should refuse service to anyone who refuses to wear a mask.
"If there's no mask, there should be no service," Garcetti said.
The mayor noted that Los Angeles police have not been issuing citations for mask violators, saying the goal is to educate people in hopes of getting voluntary cooperation.
Gov. Gavin Newsom -- who made face coverings mandatory across the state on June 18 -- announced a "major public awareness campaign" about the requirement on Thursday. The campaign, backed by $10.75 million in donations, will feature a series public service announcements in a variety of languages. The announcements will be in the form of broadcast announcements and hundreds of billboards across the state.