Who will apply Governor Gavin Newsom’s new COVID mask mandate?


California officials say the new one-month statewide indoor mask mandate is critical to preventing a new wave of COVID-19.

But it is not known who is responsible for the execution of this mandate.

Asked about the lack of an enforcement mechanism for the warrant, which went into effect Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he “trusted” Californians to follow him, but did not provide details. that would happen if they didn’t.

“I have more confidence than you in the ability of people to do the right thing. That’s the answer, ”Newsom told a reporter at a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I think people are more capable once you give them the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ to apply … and I think a lot of people will apply themselves and do the right thing. . “

Local government officials say the state has given no guidance on the application, and some local authorities say they won’t enforce state order at all.

Some counties in California, including Sacramento, maintained their mask mandate even after the state suspended the original mandate in June.

Others like Fresno, Placer, Orange, Riverside and Stanislaus haven’t had a mask warrant in months. Some of their elected leaders say they will not help uphold the new order of state officials.

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said he expects to see “a lot of non-compliance” from residents.

“I just don’t believe it’s going to make a difference or that the governor has any science behind it,” Wagner said in the Orange County Register.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said it lacked the resources and personnel to enforce the state mask order. The county’s top public health official, Dr Rob Oldham, said the app is unlikely.

“I really don’t hear much about the app, even from the state, so it’s a question we get a lot,” he said at a county meeting on Tuesday.

State agencies responsible for COVID-19 rules

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly, announcing the warrant on Monday, said it would affect about 50% of Californians who are not currently subject to a county masking order.

Some state agencies have enforced state coronavirus mandates in the past.

During much of the pandemic, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control took charge of enforcing the state’s COVID-19 rules in restaurants. Between July 2020 and February 2021, the agency visited California restaurants and bars nearly 190,000 times and filed 238 citations for things like serving customers indoors or outdoors when prohibited, or not require employees to wear masks.

Cal-OSHA, the state’s division of occupational safety and health, is responsible for enforcing state health ordinances among employees while they are on the job. The agency is listing its COVID-19-related violations online, which vary in penalty and severity.

Recently, for example, Cal-OSHA fined a Hayward Retirement Home over $ 20,000 for failing to “establish, implement and maintain effective written COVID procedures.”

When the counties maintain the mask warrants

How and when counties apply their mask measures vary. Sacramento County, for example, has had an indoor mask mandate since late July. County Public Information Officer Janna Haynes said the county does not generally handle law enforcement for clients in businesses.

“We have and continue to come from a place of guidance and education on the importance of hiding indoors,” Haynes said in an email.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement this week that it will not enforce the mask’s warrant. In a call Thursday with reporters, Dr Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County health official, in response to the sheriff’s office statement, said “it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t be on the same wavelength”.

“In this case, with the application of the mask warrant, which is why a lot of the enforcement has fallen on businesses,” she said.

Yolo County also issued an indoor masking order over the summer, with a bit more force behind. The order called on the sheriff and all county police chiefs to ensure that the order was followed.

“The violation of one of the provisions of this decree constitutes an imminent threat and threat to public health, constitutes a public nuisance and …

Code enforcement officers can also issue administrative citations with a minimum of $ 25 for individual violations and much higher fines for companies violating health orders, said John Fout, chief information officer. Yolo County Public Authority.

“That said, the vast majority of violations are resolved through education and requests for voluntary compliance,” Fout said.

Almost immediately after another statewide mask warrant was announced, local officials said they were not convinced people would follow him.

What companies want

John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said small businesses want to end the pandemic and keep their workers and customers healthy, but are worried about the burden of the disease. application of another state mask warrant.

“It puts the average local restaurateur, the owner of a toy story, the owner of a hardware store, the owner of an auto store, in the very difficult position of having to play masked police,” Kabateck said. “And also raises the specter of the kind of liability, fines or penalties they could incur if they don’t follow the letter of the law.”

“This is an incredibly huge burden for those who are already dealing with port congestion and skyrocketing crime and theft in retail,” he added.

Health Secretary Ghaly said he hopes those who fail to comply with the mask order will be “few and far between,” and said the department hopes people who visit public places on do “expecting to wear a mask”.

“I know in some places the app will be stronger than others,” Ghaly said. “And we are at a point in this pandemic where we expect Californians to heed the warning, understand and see what is of concern to us, and choose to hide during the period of time.”

Mike McGough of The Bee contributed to this report.

This story was originally published December 16, 2021 10:47 a.m.

Lara Korte covers California politics for The Sacramento Bee. Prior to joining The Bee, she reported on higher education in Texas for Austin American-Statesman. She graduated from the University of Kansas.


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