LOS ANGELES – City councilor Paul Koretz made an application on Wednesday to authorize Los Angeles to pay fines for those who fail to honor Mayor Eric Garcetti's order to wear masks in public in the COVID-19 pandemic .
According to Koretz’s request, the first violation would result in a penalty of $ 100, followed by a quote of $ 250 for the second violation and $ 500 for the third and subsequent violation.
"Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I have been a strong supporter of residents wearing masks to protect themselves and others from contracting the disease," said Koretz. "I am glad that the mayor has included the request in his Safer LA order, but it is time to actually wear masks when people are putting themselves, their families, and their neighbors, especially those most at risk , do not protect. "
Koretz said COVID-19 cases in California will continue to grow unless more aggressive measures are taken to enforce preventive measures. Various levels of government have introduced mask requirements across Los Angeles County, but none have been strictly enforced in the city, Koretz said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health found that on July 21, young people made up about 57% of new COVID-19 cases. Many of these cases could have been avoided if the mask requirements had been taken seriously, Koretz said.
Despite the evidence of the benefits of masks and the ubiquity of prompts to wear them, attitudes toward masks for many people range from "funky to dangerously skeptical," Koretz said, adding that these attitudes cost lives.
Koretz said that although strict enforcement of business protocols by the county is a good move, it might be time to issue tickets to the region to get the virus under control.
"If we successfully reopen our stores and want to go back to normal life, it will never happen without a vaccine (which can take many months or years) or the universal wearing of masks," he said.
Also at the meeting on Wednesday, City Councilor Herb Wesson presented an application to empower Los Angeles companies to oblige customers to wear masks on their shop fronts during the pandemic.
"Small business owners and their employees risk their lives to stay afloat in the midst of this economic and health crisis," said Wesson. "Wearing a mask saves lives, and this simple, sensible law will save lives and allow us to fight this virus sooner rather than later."
Wesson said his application came after a month of "big setbacks" to COVID-19 in Los Angeles and the state of California, where more than 475,000 state residents tested positive for the virus and more than 8,700 died.
It was not immediately clear which city council committee would hear the requests first.