A summer surge of visitors has arrived in Coronado, the weekends are crowded on Orange Avenue, and most residents are happy to be out of their homes enjoying local restaurants and shopping (while maintaining social distancing). While the crowds can be positive for business, they can be a concern for others during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the visitors come here from other states that have different, often looser, rules and guidelines regarding ways to slow the spread of coronavirus. This has led to a lot of discussion, debate, and questions on the subject of the recent statewide mandate for face coverings.
The Coronado Police Department was asked by The Coronado Times about enforcing or giving out citations related to the mask mandate and the CPD responded:
“The Police Department has not issued any citations for violating the County’s Public Health Order as it relates to masks. We are attempting to gain compliance through education on social media, the city’s sign trailers, and officers are giving away masks in the business district to those individuals who may need one.”
Mayor Richard Bailey and City Councilmember Whitney Benzian both addressed the issue this week, with input from City Manager Blair King as well. Some of their comments are included below. And Councilmember Bill Sandke recently shared his thoughts in this short video:
Mayor Bailey reiterated that the Governor of California issued a statewide order on June 18 requiring face coverings to be worn in public. The County of San Diego, as well as numerous other counties in California, had already issued a directive to wear face coverings when in public as early as May 1, but many other counties did not have the requirement in place. Bailey stated, “For all intents and purposes, there are no major differences between the County of San Diego’s order from May 1 and the Governor’s order from June 18.” Wearing a face covering has been recommended since early April.
Are face masks required? Yes, they are generally required as described below:
- Waiting in line to go inside a store and while shopping in a store.
- Picking up food at a restaurant.
- Waiting for or riding on public transportation and while riding in a taxi or other ride service vehicle.
- Seeking health care.
- Going into facilities allowed to stay open.
- Working an essential job that interacts with the public.
- Outdoors when you cannot maintain six feet of distance between other non-household members.
Are there exemptions to the face covering requirements? Yes, the exemptions are described below:
- Persons under the age of 2.
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.
- Persons who are hearing impaired.
- Persons engaged in outdoor work or recreation when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
How are agencies enforcing the face covering requirement?
The Governor did not provide enforcement guidance except to suggest “social persuasion” as the primary tool for compliance. Law enforcement agencies throughout the state, including Coronado, are relying on educational and positive reinforcement campaigns to achieve voluntary adoption of mask wearing practices.
Why are law enforcement agencies unable to be more aggressive in enforcing the face covering requirement?
As noted above, there are many exceptions to the requirement. Exceptions such as medical, mental, and physical conditions that preclude some people from safely wearing masks, are not always visible. Inquiring about an individual’s personal health to determine whether they meet the state exemptions can be legally challenging without violating their privacy. The household members exception makes aggressive enforcement difficult as well. For example, it would be inappropriate and unlawful to stop small groups of people based on their appearance to inquire whether they are members of the same household. These types of exceptions make aggressive enforcement difficult.
What is the City of Coronado doing to protect the public’s health?
- Education. Beginning back on May 1, following the County of San Diego’s order requiring masks, the City of Coronado began issuing communications informing the public of the face covering requirement. Our city officials, including law enforcement personnel, regularly remind the public in person, using electronic message signs, and through social media about the guidance to wear face coverings in public.
- Compliance for local businesses. Local businesses are required to post documentation and follow protocols prescribed by the state specific to their industry. The City of Coronado monitors local businesses and provides assistance to help businesses remain compliant.
- The police will be distributing masks in-lieu of citations as a positive reinforcement message.
“In summary, these are challenging and confusing times for everyone. We will continue to do our best to keep the public informed about the changing public health orders and what they mean for our community. We will continue to take a positive reinforcement approach when engaging with the public and we ask for your help in setting a good example for everyone to follow to help keep our case numbers low and community healthy,” said Mayor Bailey.