It is a mandate across California that will remain in place until Jan. 15, 2022.
“I think it’s a good idea better safe than sorry," said Carmen Watkins, who is in favor of the use of face masks.
Many residents in the Central Coast oppose this mandate after almost two years of a pandemic.
“I think it’s silly, I don’t wear it if I don’t have to,” said Kathy Chapman, who does not plan on wearing a face covering.
California Public Health Departmentmaking the case that since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 47% and hospitalizations by 14%. Plus, the threat of the Omicron variant.
“We have 48 cases in California we’ve identified,” disclosed California Governor Gavin Newsom during a press conference on Dec.15, 2021. “This is important, the vast majority have been fully vaccinated, which is why masking becomes even more important in this environment.”
Locally, San Luis Obispo County has had an indoor face mask mandate since September and Santa Barbara County since August.
In addition, the was already a statewide face mask mandate in place in California for unvaccinated individuals while indoors.
In terms of enforcement for businesses, it is a constant struggle.
“It’s been hard because most people don’t want to wear it, and I don’t want to get in any confrontations with anyone,” said Erick Gomez, who works at Taco Rico.
It includes reminders for customers and having face masks in stock.
“Keep a few in the truck, gotta make sure I keep a couple extra for customers coming in,” explained Christopher McCoy, who is an employee at The Big Brand Tire and Service. “When they do the quick pat, you kind of realize they might not have one, as far as being lenient, we’re trying to tighten up the strings a little bit.”
According to the SLO County Public Health Department, the vast majority of complaints have been dealt with and resolved with education and provided signage.
“Depends where in the county you are, in San Luis they enforce it more than where we live, which is in North County,” said Chapman.
“People can continue to report episodes of non-compliance to our phone center at 805-781-5500,” said Michelle Shoresman, the SLO County Public Health Department’s information officer.
At Taco Rico, employees try to keep up with changing mandates.
“It is really tiring because they tell you one thing and then another, but if it’s for a public safety, we’re willing to wear it for however long it takes,” concluded Gomez.
The California Public Health Department also issued a travel advisory that states all travelers visiting California should get tested within 3 to 5 days upon arrival regardless of vaccination status.