Can I Be Cited Or Arrested For Not Wearing A Mask?

Can I Be Cited Or Arrested For Not Wearing A Mask?

by Jul 16, 2020

It’s been about a month since governor Gavin Newsom, in a bid to stop the resurgence of COVID-19 in California, issued a statewide mask mandate for the general population. As the situation both in California and nationwide continues to deteriorate with regards to the spread of the virus, many people are still uncertain about how the mandate affects them personally.

Generally speaking, when a mandate is effected with regards to the general public (for example, the healthcare mandate) there are typically consequences for disobeying the mandate (like having to pay a fine). If you are concerned about the mask mandate and whether or not it affects you, here are some basic answers to the most common questions.

Who Has To Wear A Mask?

The simple answer to this question is, pretty much everyone. The reason the mandate was issued at the state level, as opposed to the previous orders and recommendations issued by individual counties and cities, is that too many people were ignoring the recommendations and putting other people in danger of contracting the virus.

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Are There Any Exemptions?

Yes, there are a handful of exceptions. You can see a complete list of those who are exempted from wearing a mask here. In short:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • Anyone with respiratory issues where it would impede their breathing
  • Anyone unable to remove the mask without help
  • Anyone with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that does not allow them to wear a mask

If you don’t meet any of those conditions, then you need to wear a mask whenever you leave your home.

Can I Be Cited Or Arrested For Not Wearing A Mask?

As it currently stands, most law enforcement agencies are not actively attempting to enforce compliance with the governor’s mandate. This means that if you choose not to wear a mask, you are unlikely to be cited or arrested by the police.

With that said, law enforcement agencies and/or the governor’s office may choose to actively enforce the mandate more strictly, including criminal charges for those who don’t wear masks, at any time.

Much will likely depend on whether or not enough people choose to voluntarily obey the mandate. If few people obey the mandate and the virus continues to spread, it’s reasonable to expect that more stringent enforcement efforts might follow.


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