PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – Police officers have begun dropping by essential business in Palm Springs to inform management about the city’s new mandatory face covering order, according to the police chief, who says education, not fines, will be his officers’ first tool in enforcing the order.
No citations have been given since the order was issued Monday, Palm Springs Police Department Chief Bryan Reyes said during Tuesday’s special City Council meeting, which was called to discuss how recent emergency orders spurred by the coronavirus pandemic will be enforced.
Police began on Tuesday stopping by grocery stores with copies of the new rules, along with signs management can post in their windows, which is required under the order. Police will continue making contact with local essential businesses throughout the week prior to issuing fines.
Reyes on Tuesday also urged local residents to use social cues to help spread the word about the face covering order.
“We must keep in mind that we all have the opportunity, if we witness those violations such as a person not having their mask on who is walking down the street, or in a store, is to just remind them we have this directive in place,” Reyes said.
“Feel free to take it upon yourself to say to your fellow person who is not wearing a mask to put one on, or obtain one, or a face covering.”
City Manager David Ready said previously the latest emergency order issued Monday sought to codify a similar requirement issued last week by Riverside County’s public health officer that mandated anyone leaving home to cover their faces.
The Palm Springs version ordered businesses that are deemed essential to require employees and customers to wear a face covering, which can be a mask, bandanna, scarf, neck gaiter or other clothing that covers the nose and mouth and does not have visible holes.
The order leaves the amount of the fines up to individual police officers, who are being asked to use their discretion “having taken into consideration the severity of the violation,” the order reads. “In addition, continued violations of this order may result in the closure of any business.”
Police also directed residents to call the city’s non-emergency line — 760-323-8159 — to report serious violations any of the coronavirus- related orders.
Serious violations include sightings of large gatherings of people or reports of a non-essential businesses operating, Reyes said.
“This is not a line to notify us in regards a person walking down the street without a mask on,” he said.