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Residents react after Contra Costa County approves fines for violating health orders

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CONCORD, Calif. (KRON) — Now that an ordinance has passed in Contra Costa County, authorizing law enforcement to ticket people and businesses for ignoring health orders — some are wondering how the law will actually be enforced.

The latest update to Contra Costa County’s social distancing health order requires face coverings be worn even in outdoor dining settings.

Staff and customers are to remain covered-up at all times except when eating or drinking.

Which explains why one minute you’ll see a person masked up and the next minute without.

“Outdoors is really where there’s a danger,” Jeff Gerlach said. “There’s not danger out here.”

Todos Santos Plaza in Concord is spacious enough to allow for proper physical distancing and most people seen walking around were at least in possession of a face covering.

But if caught now without one in a social setting, Contra Costa County has empowered law enforcement to issue tickets and potentially fines for breaking the rules — a point of concern for some.

“I think there’s other crimes that they can be, you know, putting their use to,” Dajuan Davison said.

The office of the sheriff says it has no intention of sending out teams of deputies searching for violators.

Instead, they will continue to educate and seek compliance, then refer repeat offending people and businesses to the District Attorney’s office.

“On whole, I think what it’s going to do is more rile up the anti-maskers and get them upset, make them want to not wear it just to prove a point,” Jessica Nelson said.

The District Attorney’s office says while it will continue to follow-up on complaints from the public about offenders, the way their investigators intend to enforce the urgency ordinance passed by the board of supervisors Tuesday is still being worked out by a group of county officials.

“I do a lot of walking in the park, and I don’t always wear my mask, cause it’s hard to breathe while I’m walking,” Steve Boyd said. “And, of course, you’re going to cross paths with people. And, if I’m going to get fined for that, that would make my life pretty difficult.”

So far, no notice of fines have been issued.

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