SAN MATEO (KPIX) – San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday, urging him to enforce the mandatory health order requiring people to wear masks in public with fines.
“What we asked the governor to do on a statewide level – and maybe what he could do on a pilot basis with San Mateo County – is to give us the authority to have the ability to fine people,” Canepa said.
Canepa proposes a warning for the first offense. The second offense would be a $100 fine, and the third offense would be a $500 fine.
Canepa suggested it would not be police, but community service officers who would enforce the fines. He said he is worried the economic recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown could relapse if enough people don’t wear masks.
“I’m seeing too many people ignore this simple practice which is frankly putting the entire community at risk to this deadly disease,” Canepa said.
“If we want to truly save lives, then we must all wear face coverings. I am proposing that the state offer counties guidance on a fine structure and enforcement because without it, the public is at risk.”
Brad Goldberg, owner of Vault 164 Restaurant in San Mateo, said he agreed fines might help keep the reopening of the county on track.
“I’m all for masks,” Goldberg sald. “We can’t afford to go backward. We’ve got to beat this and if the powers that be think masks are the best thing, then we need to do it.”
Not everyone agrees. “Darren,” a young man who was not wearing a mask in the business district of San Mateo Tuesday night, said it impinged on his freedom.
“I think you can’t tell someone they have to wear something. Like, it seems kind of wrong,” he said.
“Meh, I don’t believe in that,” said Alex Mas of Colma. “Where do you cut it off? You know, health reasons [versus] freedom, I’d rather stick with health reasons. If you get your health reasons away, then you’re dead. Where’s your freedom?”
Supervisor Canepa said he hopes to hear back from the governor. If not, he will ask the county to independently enact the fines at the next Board of Supervisors meeting in two weeks.