While some cities, like Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, have fined people for not wearing masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Long Beach has so far relied on voluntary compliance.
But 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce says the city should consider some of its options for enforcement amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The councilwoman has proposed an agenda item for Tuesday’s City Council meeting to discuss the issue of mask enforcement and have the city report back on the status of enforcement violations.
Pearce said she would also like to see more hand sanitation stations near playgrounds and other city facilities.
“This past week Governor Newsom instituted a statewide mask mandate, and while the City has been one of the first CA cities to have one—to date we have not fully enforced this mandate,” Pearce said, in her agenda item. “To date, no one has been cited, yet our COVID-19 numbers are on the rise.”
Pearce said the city could include an income waiver for people who cannot afford the fines and instead could do community service.
Noting that city employees should also be held accountable, Pearce has also asked that the city report back on the complaint process regarding any city employees who are not wearing a mask.
The news comes as the city of Pasadena, which, like Long Beach, has its own health department, has enlisted help from volunteers to walk city streets to ensure people are wearing masks.
While it doesn’t have a volunteer program like Pasadena, Long Beach uses a Health Ambassador program with about a dozen young adults who patrol on bikes and beaches to educate people about health orders.
The program, which launched in July, employs young people looking for work through the city’s Pacific Gateway workforce agency.
On Sunday, Southern California plunged into stricter stay-at-home orders after the number of available intensive care unit beds dropped below the 15% benchmark. But some California sheriffs, including those in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, have said they will not enforce the health orders.
The Long Beach Department said in a statement Monday it encourages residents to stay up to date with health order compliance.
“We will continue to educate and rely on voluntary compliance and will refer information on non-compliance to the City’s Venue Task Force for administrative review,” the department said.
The city, in a statement Monday, said it encourages voluntary compliance with health orders and has “taken a proactive approach to educate businesses about the health orders and protocols affecting their operation.”
Long Beach’s City Council meeting will take place starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.