A city in Colorado has mandated that all residents wear face masks to battle COVID-19 and that repeat violators could face up to a year in jail and/or a $2,650 fine.
Englewood City Manager J. Shawn Lewis issued an emergency order that was approved by the city council on Monday requiring everyone over 6 years old to wear a mask that covers their noses and mouths while in any retail stores, commercial or government offices, as well as all health care facilities and even veterinary offices.
“All people taking public transportation are required to wear face masks. Drivers of public transportation services, like Uber and taxi services are required to wear a face mask unless members of their family are in the vehicle,” Fox News reports. “Face coverings are not required when in a personal office and individuals are more than six feet apart from one another.”
The fines start low, says the order, which will go into effect July 10 at 8 a.m. A first offense draws a $15 fine, the second a $25 fine. The order also notes that “[a]ny person charged with an offense under this Emergency Order may choose to enter a plea of not guilty and be entitled to a trial as authorized by the law.”
The order also sets a maximum penalty of a fine that cannot exceed $2,650, or up to 360 days in prison — or both. And the edict says this: “Enforcement actions are intended to be cumulative in nature and Englewood may pursue one of more civil, criminal, and administrative actions, fees, fines, sentences, penalties, judgments, and remedies and may do so simultaneously or in succession.”
The Colorado city’s order follows another in West Hollywood.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood Station said Wednesday it would start citing people for not wearing face coverings,” effective immediately, CBS-LA reported last week. “The department said it took the step after receiving a number of complaints about people not wearing face coverings in West Hollywood.”
The fines start out low but soar for repeat offenders. For a first offense, there’s a $250 fine plus $50 processing fee, the sheriff’s department said in a statement. The second offense brings a $1,000 fine, the third a $2,000 fine — and for a fourth offense, a whopping $5,000 fine.
The sheriff’s department said they simply had no other choice but to implement fines. “Our last option was to conduct enforcement by issuing an Administrative Citation, but the risk to community health is too great,” the statement said.
But KTLA-5 said local jurisdictions have been given “leeway to decide how — or if — they’ll enforce the statewide mask mandate issued June 18. The order allows for fines and other penalties, including possible misdemeanor charges.”
While face coverings have been required in Los Angeles County since May 14, KTLA notes, the orders “have largely gone unenforced with punitive measures.” Only the West Hollywood station has instituted a citation, the site says.
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