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Simi Valley Businesses Given Green Light To Call Police On Customers Who Refuse To Wear Face Masks

SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA) — Simi Valley businesses whose customers refuse to wear a face mask can now call the police for help in removing those persons from their property.

Malls reopen - during the Coronavirus pandemic
ARCADIA, CA - OCTOBER 07, 2020 - A sign tells customers to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as shoppers return to indoor shopping at the Westfield Santa Anita shopping mall in Arcadia on October 7, 2020. This is the first day customers were allowed to return to indoor shopping after Los Angeles County eased restrictions and have reopened the malls and the individual stores. Such stores have been closed for weeks, but reopened Wednesday at 25% capacity. Westfield Santa Anita has placed Covid-related signage with one-way traffic, 6 feet distancing when waiting to get into individual stores, hand sanitizing stations and mask are required before entering the mall. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Face masks are required by the state in order to comply with business reopening guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

However, "businesses in Simi Valley who encounter individuals who will not adhere to store policies requiring face coverings may report those individuals for removal by contacting the Simi Valley Police Department," a statement from city spokeswoman Samantha Argabrite said.

California requires face coverings in several high-risk situations, such as being inside, or in line to enter, any indoor public spaces; in healthcare settings, waiting for or riding on public transportation or a rideshare service, or working with the public or any space visited by members of the public, or where food is prepared. Masks are also required outside when a physical distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained from other people.

City officials say they wanted to give business owners the option so they and their other customers will feel safe while shopping. If a police officer is called, the officer will escort the unwilling customer off the property without issuing a citation.

"As you would with anyone who would be belligerent or difficult inside your store," said Simi Valley Deputy City Manager Samantha Argabrit.  "Certainly we don't want to have to arrest people and we certainly don't want to have to escort people from businesses, but obviously the police will do what they have within their powers to do to ensure they have a safe environment and that businesses and customers feel comfortable."

Susan Cooper, the manager at Dr. Conkey's Candy and Coffee, said she's had to ask a few customers to put on a mask, but she hasn't had a major problem. Cooper is glad she will have the option to call the police because she expects to see more shoppers coming into her store during the holidays.

"Helpful for them to take it down a notch and help the situation instead of us having to do that. 22:05 We don't have to work with someone who's irate," Cooper said.

It's not clear if refusal to wear a mask at Simi Valley's businesses is a widespread problem, but at least one elected city official has mocked face masks on social media, and photos of a Simi Valley flooring business with a sign that declared "No Masks Allowed" were shared widely online in May.

Businesses who want help enforcing their face mask policies can call the Simi Valley Police Department at (805) 583-6950.

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