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'We're Not Willing To Take That Risk': West Hollywood Begins Enforcing Face Covering Mandate As Coronavirus Cases Spike

WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's West Hollywood Station began enforcing face covering orders Thursday.

"I don't want to write any citations," Capt. Edward Ramirez said. "I certainly hope that people choose to comply, but we have that as an option, as extra teeth to what we're currently doing."

Ramirez said that since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide face covering order in June, deputies have been educating residents about the requirement. But, due to the recent alarming spike in coronavirus cases, the city of West Hollywood decided to crack down on those not wearing face coverings in public.

"In the city of West Hollywood, we do have an elderly population," he said. "We do have a population, some who's immune systems are compromised, and we're not willing to take that risk with our community."

The enforcement team will be out on designated days and times, and when they come across someone not wearing a face covering, deputies will first ask if they have one. If they don't, deputies will provide them with one and ask them to put it on.

"Our hope is that person will comply," Ramirez said. "If the person refuses to comply, we'll tell them they're gonna have to leave the city limits, and if they refuse to leave the city limits then we will issue a citation."

People not wearing a face covering will face a $250 fine for the first offense, a $1,000 fine for the second offense and a $5,000 fine for the third offense. Each of the fines are accompanied by an additional $50 fee.

"I do think a financial consequence is a way to get the message across," David Salas, a West Hollywood resident said.

But West Hollywood is in the minority, one of only three communities that have announced they would enforce mask mandates with citations. Santa Monica announced a similar measure Thursday, and Beverly Hills made the announcement in April with its initial mandate.

The Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department both said they would continue to educate the public and seek voluntary compliance.

"We're not doing anything different than any other police department in the state of California can do," Ramirez said. "We're just deciding to do it now."

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