People or businesses who violate Contra Costa's Health Orders are now subject to administrative fines, under a
passed by the Board of Supervisors this week. Several other Bay Area counties have similar laws.
I believe this approach is necessary to provide an alternative to criminal enforcement of the Health Orders, and improve our ability to combat the spread of the virus.
Consistent research shows that masks really can prevent the spread of COVID-19. We also know that maintaining distance from the breathing, coughs, and sneezes of others also curbs the spread of this airborne virus. As does avoiding crowded indoor places.
Our goal is to send a serious message about the importance of our required prevention steps, and not to criminalize violators.
The County and cities will continue to use "educational enforcement" as the primary tool for achieving compliance with the Health Orders. These are administrative and not criminal fines. Violators may be given a warning with up to two days to comply, or immediately fined, depending on the situation.
- For violations of non-commercial activities such as individuals not wearing a mask, the fine is $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation, and $500 for each additional violation, within one year of the initial violation.
- For violations involving commercial activity, the fine is $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second violation, and $1,000 for each additional violation, within one year of the initial violation.
- If a violation continues for more than one day, each day is a separate violation.
- People with medical exemptions for face coverings won't be fined.
Since the pandemic began, the County, including my office, have worked hard to educate people about the Health Orders and requirements. We know this can be challenging for the public, since the orders are frequently modified.
Most people have complied and worked hard to help prevent the spread of the virus.
This collaborative effort has protected hospital capacity and saved lives.
Those who are either deliberately or unknowingly violating the Health Orders are risking the public health of the community, especially seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.
I am committed to helping ensure that the Health Orders, including the new Fine Ordinance, are not used as justification to harass, harm or target another person, especially our communities of color.
The County and each city determines who will issue fines in their respective jurisdiction, which can be a code enforcement officer, environmental health official, or law enforcement.
What to do if you see violations:
Latest health orders:
Check the County Health Services COVID-19 webpage for the
and accompanying FAQ's.
Stopping COVID-19 will take all of us. Thanks for your help.