LOS BANOS, California (KSEE/KGPE) — Going shopping without a mask in Los Banos could soon bring a $500 fine.
“Part of the effort is to have citizens wear masks if they’re going to enter what we identify as a covered essential business,” Administrative Sgt. Ivan Mendez with the Los Banos Police Department said Thursday.
The city issued an executive order requiring employees as well as customers wear face coverings inside “covered” businesses — which are enclosed shops like grocery stores.
Police are authorized to enforce the order with an up to $500 fine.
“It’s a little drastic, yup pretty drastic,” Ken Stillman said.
The mandate goes into effect Monday. It will also limit the number of customers inside stores to 5 per 1,000 square feet and implements a “one person per cart” policy, only allowing for one person from each household, not entire families, to shop at a time.
“I’m not against this protection stuff, but I think this country’s a little overboard with it,” Stillman said.
The order also asks stores to step up. For businesses to remain open they will be required to post signs with their social distancing as well as sanitation protocol.
“Here it tells people what we’re doing, how we’re keeping everything clean,” Julie Martinez said.
Martinez works at a gas station where many COVID-19 precautions are already in place.
“People get frustrated and they take it and think it’s me that’s putting it on them, and of course people get angry that they have to be told what to do.” she said.
Police said the new rules are in response to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the community. Los Banos has the highest number in Merced County.
“The ultimate goal is to increase awareness and safeguard the citizens of Los Banos,” Mendez said.
“We’re all in this together and that’s what we really need to remember. Stop thinking about ourselves and think of the next person,” Martinez said.
Mendez said officers are able to enforce the fine, but the department is really hoping citizens take it upon themselves to follow the new rules.