As coronavirus cases continue to soar regionally and statewide, Lancaster officials this week approved an ordinance authorizing enforcement of the city’s mask requirement, making any violation a misdemeanor that could result in a fine, jail time or both.
The ordinance, approved by Mayor R. Rex Parris and the Lancaster City Council on Tuesday, went into effect immediately.
A requirement to wear face coverings in public has been in effect in Lancaster since April 3. This new ordinance, however, will make it a misdemeanor to violate the measure.
“The goal of this ordinance, and of our law enforcement in Lancaster in general, is to promote peace, safety, and public welfare in our communities,” Parris said in a statement Wednesday. “While I would hope everyone knows by now the importance of wearing a mask, the fact that violations are now misdemeanors is one more reason to do the right thing and mask up.”
A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both, according to the ordinance.
Officials opted to take further action due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city and throughout the region that has put a strain on the health care system. Los Angeles County reported 9,243 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, according to public health data.
The Southern California region, which is comprised of L.A. and 10 other counties, has been placed under a targeted stay-at-home order by California for at least three weeks because capacity in intensive care units has dropped below 15%.
After the ordinance was passed, Parris urged residents to adhere to the mask requirement.
“I know we all wish that the pandemic was over, but the fact is that COVID-19 is still here, and the numbers are getting alarmingly worse as we head into winter,” he said. “Wearing a mask is the simplest, easiest thing we can each do to help fight this disease.”