Mask ordinance now in effect in Santa Barbara County

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Posted at 6:22 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 00:08:06-04

A mandatory mask ordinance in Santa Barbara County went into effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

This move comes as county health officials try to limit community spread of COVID-19.

People who don't comply can face a fine up to $1,000 or even jail time.

In order to help ensure everyone who needs a mask can get one, the county has several locations where masks are available for free.

  • Santa Barbara County Administration building lobby, 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara Health Care Center, 345 Camino del Remedio, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Maria Health Care Center, 2115 Centerpointe Parkway, Santa Maria

Under the new ordinance, everyone over the age of 13 must have a face covering while conducting business in public, such as while at the grocery store, at pharmacies, and even while riding public transportation.

All employees of businesses that interact with the public also have to wear masks.

"We are just rolling with the guidelines that the Santa Barbara County public health and environmental regulations they're asking us to do," said Annette Piper, co-owner of Piper's Kombucha Brew in Old Town Orcutt.

At Piper's, they've put up signs to remind customers of the regulations and what they plan to enforce.

"There's not going to be any kind of loitering or hanging out until we're allowed to do that, until we're given the authorization to resume to business as usual," Piper said.

But not everyone is on board with this new ordinance.

"I don't think it's very good because everyone's already self-distancing themselves already. If they have to wear a mask outside, I don't think it's really necessary, really," said shopper Tony Torres.

So how will local law enforcement handle those who don't comply? The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, Santa Maria Police Department, and Lompoc Police Department say they plan on trying to have conversations with people first.

"We can basically divert getting to the point of enforcement just by simply having a conversation, educating the public, and working through the problem with them," said Lt. Paul Van Meel, Santa Maria Police Department.

"We're hoping that people understand nobody wants to wear a mask, nobody wants to cover their face but it's a step towards reopening, it's getting us closer to where we want to be," explained Raquel Zick, Public Information Officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

There are some exemptions to the ordinance. The county says those who have medical conditions and can't stay at home are asked to "carry a doctor's note if they are concerned about being stopped from entering a location."

The county says wearing masks while exercising outdoors is only recommended and not required. However, they say it's still best to wear one when social distancing is not possible.

The ordinance will be in effect until June 30 or until it is rescinded or extended.

Click here to read the full order.