Monterey is not playing around anymore with the county's facial covering order. After weeks of tourists showing up without masks and hearing complaints from mask-wearing residents about it, Monterey City Manager Hans Uslar used his emergency manager powers to create the city's own order that comes with administrative fines for those not wearing masks.
First-time offenders will be fined $100, going up to $150 for second offense and $300 for third and subsequent offenses. If the offender is inside a store the manager or owner will also be fined for not enforcing the order, City Communications and Public Information Manager Laurie Huelga told reporters in a briefing call on July 2.
The order went into effect on July 1, and will remain indefinitely. It applies to the entire city limits and residents, but this Fourth of July weekend city officials will be focusing enforcement on their two busiest tourist spots, Cannery Row and the wharf area.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to enforcement is the state's categorization of violations as misdemeanor criminal offenses, Huelga said. It comes with a $1,000 fine and is a lot of work for law enforcement which has to document the incident with reports that then go to the local district attorney for prosecution. It's what's kept local efforts at educating violaters only.
Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips says the designation as a criminal offense been an issue at the county level, prompting County Counsel Les Girard recently to ask the state about making it an administrative offense.
Uslar went ahead this week and issued his own facial covering order on July 1 and readied plans to enforce it. He also created fines for those who violate his order to close Monterey's beaches, part of a coordinated effort with other surrounding cities and unincorporated Pebble Beach.
There are exceptions to the mask order for those who for medical or ability reasons cannot cover their faces.
Unlike the county's order which allows for no masks while walking or running for exercise, Monterey's order makes masks mandatory along Cannery Row and the wharf area, according to Uslar. The rest of the city outdoor areas and streets fall under the no masks while exercising exception.