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Ignoring Mask Rules Might Soon Get You Fined In LA

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After more than a few incidents of maskless protesting and several conflicts about mask policies between customers and business managers, L.A.'s City Council voted unanimously yesterday to explore implementing actual enforcement for mask-wearing.

The city already has an ordinance that requires residents to wear masks — that's been in effect since April. But it doesn't lay out any fines or punishment for violating that requirement.

Councilmen Paul Koretz introduced the motion, citing soaring rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the city.

It specifically asks the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would:

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"provide fines and penalties for refusal to wear a mask at an indoor public place when requested to do so by management or operators of a facility or establishment ... and provide fines and penalties for refusing to wear a mask while invading someone’s personal space."

The motion also instructs city departments to prioritize issuing citations. The departments will be required to report back in 30 days with more information on the number of citations issued, as well as feedback on potential problems with enforcement. After that, City Council will formulate an actual enforcement policy. (Bureacracy isn't known for being speedy.)

Councilman Mike Bonin said the amendment was a direct response to a group of maskless protesters who confronted customers and employees at the Century City Mall in early January.

Videos posted on Twitter showed a group of people mobbing a Ralphs market inside the shopping complex, chanting "no more masks." Some of the protesters got in fights with other customers, before entering a Bloomingdales.

According to Samuel Braslow, a reporter for the Beverly Hills Courier, LAPD showed up eventually but did not try to remove the protesters.

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Mayor Garcetti's safer-at-home order also requires city residents to wear masks when outside their homes. It specifies fines of $1,000 or six months in jail for violators. But LAPD hasn't given out any citations.

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