Mask Laws in Orange County

Face masks have been partially mandated. The Board of Supervisors’ Andrew Do brought up the mask initiative and was supported by Lisa Bartlett and Doug Chafee. Supervisor Don Wagner and Michelle Steel dissented on the requiring face coverings at essential business for workers at grocery stores, liquor stores, gas stations, pharmacies, places where food prep is done, and other necessity providers. The mandate is taking effect today.

For non-working residents that find themselves out in public, face masks are not mandatory. The wearing of face masks are, however, strongly recommended in the original health guidelines from Public Health Officer Nichole Quick. The lacking of a broader county mandate allows the law to vary from city to city in Orange County.

In Costa Mesa and Buena Park, anyone that is in the public is required to wear face masks. Whether you are non-working or working,  a face mask is required. There are fines that are being enforced.

In Santa Ana, Irvine, and Westminster, the face masks are only required to be worn by workers in essential services. Residents in these cities are simply encouraged, not ordered, to protect themselves and others by covering up.

Fullerton City Council members may possibly join those cities into enact a new law. It is possible that masks will become completely mandatory, as requested by Councilman Ahmad Zahra, but only with a focus on “essential businesses, employees and customers within these businesses.” Pushing the law towards any residents out in the public is not a clear direction on the agenda of the passing of the law.

It is a confusing thing, having different laws in different cities within the same county. A singular course of action taken by every city’s government would provide a clearer vision and guidelines for all of the people living in the county. Orange County has reported 1,827 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of April 23rd. The total amount of people who have died in the county has hit 36. Why are some governments holding off on doing everything possible to put the coronavirus to a stop?

The issue is individual rights— or put in better words— they are worried about violating people’s individual rights. They must take into consideration the respect for their citizens and inhibiting their daily life. To further this decision, they bring up the point that the health department has not said that masks must be worn all the time. To enforce this would seem “overkill” for people like Councilwoman of Buena Park City Council, Beth Swift. She voiced her opinion in support of the idea of wearing the masks, but not the additional time officers would have to take to cite people for not wearing a mask.

Other councilmen argue that if they want compliance, consequences need to be implemented. People are beginning to protest the orders that have come with the coronavirus, and the government is trying to hear all the voices of the people and deal with the situation best they can. Are individual rights falling to the side for this time? Would that be worth it just to save one more person from losing their life? Perhaps. Perhaps it is worth it for you to give up your individual rights to do what you can and protect that one life. Perhaps you can save a life. Stay home. Cover up. Keep tabs on your local laws. Stay safe.

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