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Businesses tasked with 'enforcing' statewide face mask order

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 00:41:41-04

California's statewide ordermandating face coverings in some indoor and outdoor spaces has been in effect for about a week, and enforcement so far has been mostly up to businesses themselves.

Some business owners in San Luis Obispo County said many people weren't accustomed to wearing a mask in these public spaces when the order first took effect, but now they say more and more people are wearing them downtown.

“For the most part there really hasn't been any pushback, but it was nice when the state mandated masks and when we reopened, that was something our employees felt really strongly about,” said Josh Haring, owner of The Mountain Air.

At The Mountain Air, camping gear and outdoor apparel are stocked up and so are disposable masks for customers who forgot to bring their own.

“The frustration with the mask ordinance was when a customer forgot one and it's like, ‘I just need something really quick’," Haring said.

Some people are keeping their masks on as they go from store to store.

“Waiters have been telling people, 'oh, make sure you have your face mask on’, and no one has been really rude about it,” said Allie Simonian, a shopper in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Waiters at Novo Restaurant in San Luis Obispo are avoiding the touchy subject.

“We would never want our staff to be put in a situation where they would have to get in a confrontation with a guest who doesn't agree with the rule or the law,” said Samantha Welch, operations director for Blue Mango Management.

Welch said guests are required to wear a mask when entering the building but not when getting up to use the bathroom.

“We are just hoping that everyone will do the right thing and wear their masks when they are supposed to,” Welch said.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said it's treating the situation as an educational opportunity and asking people for voluntary compliance.

However, some said it's not enough to leave enforcement to businesses.

“Please pass legislation, not an executive order, that can actually be enforced by local police and sheriff's so that people can go shopping without risking their lives,” said Jonathan Munroe, a Cambria resident.

It's a gray area everyone is trying to navigate as the world learns to live with COVID-19.

“I'm sure we would all prefer to not be wearing masks but we look at it as just doing our part,” Haring said.


  • Inside or in line to enter indoor public spaces.
  • In hospitals, pharmacies, medical clinics or other healthcare offices.
  • While waiting for and riding public transportation, taxis or ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Drivers should also wear masks.
  • In workplaces that require interacting with the public, where food is prepared, packaged or delivered, or when sharing common spaces such as elevators and hallways
  • In office settings where people cannot physically distance.
  • While outside if it’s not possible to stay six feet away from others.

Click here for a full breakdown of the order and who's exempt from it.