Councilman Paul Koretz Wednesday introduced a motion that would authorize Los Angeles to issue fines to people who don’t comply with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order to wear masks in public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Koretz’ motion, the first violation would result in a $100 penalty, followed by a $250 citation for the second violation and $500 for the third and subsequent violations.
“I’ve been a strong proponent of residents wearing masks to protect themselves and others from contracting the disease since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic,” Koretz said. “I’m glad that the mayor has added the requirement to his Safer L.A. order, but it is past time to actually enforce mask-wearing if people will not protect themselves, their families and their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable.”
Koretz said California’s COVID-19 cases will continue to rise if more aggressive action is not taken to enforce the preventive measures. Various levels of government have instituted mask “requirements” throughout Los Angeles County, but none have been strictly enforced in the city, Koretz said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted that young people accounted for roughly 57% of new COVID-19 cases as of July 21, and many of these cases could have been avoided if mask requirements were taken more seriously, Koretz said.
Despite evidence of the benefits of masks and the ubiquity of calls to wear them, the attitude toward masks for many people spans from “flippant to dangerously skeptical,” Koretz said, adding those attitudes are costing lives.
Koretz said although the county’s strong enforcement of business protocols is a good step, it might be time to start issuing tickets for the region to get a handle on the virus.
“If we want to successfully reopen our businesses and get back to close to normal lives, it will never happen without a vaccine (which could be many months or years from now) or universal wearing of masks,” he said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Councilman Herb Wesson introduced a motion that would give businesses in Los Angeles the authority to require customers to wear masks while inside their storefronts during the pandemic.
“Small business owners and their employees are risking their lives to stay afloat in the midst of this economic and public health crisis,” Wesson said. “Wearing a mask saves lives, and this simple, common-sense law will save lives and allow us to beat this virus sooner rather than later.”
Wesson said his motion comes after a month of “major setbacks” regarding COVID-19 for Los Angeles and the state of California, where more than 475,000 of the state’s residents have tested positive for the virus and more than 8,700 have died.
It was not immediately clear which City Council committee would hear the motions first.
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