(NEW YORK POST) – Residents of one California county have been ordered to wear masks in public to contain the spread of COVID-19 — or face a $1,000 fine.
“Failed compliance could eventually lead to a fine,” said Riverside County spokesperson Brooke Frederico, according to news station KCBS.
Frederico said the tough mandate, which went into effect Sunday at midnight, was aimed at slowing the spread of the highly contagious virus in the county, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and beyond.
“It’s about saving lives so that we can stop or slow the spread of the disease,” Frederico said.
Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco said Monday that authorities, however, will not be prioritizing enforcing the new order.
“This is a valid order and enforceable by fine, imprisonment or both,” Bianco in a Monday video statement. “However, I need to make it perfectly clear to all residents of Riverside County we will not be setting up a police state and this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County.”
He called on residents to follow the order, saying enforcing it is “the last thing I want to happen while we deal with this crisis.”
“If we must respond to violations of this order, our abilities to respond to emergencies and critical calls for service will be greatly impacted,” Bianco said.
The order comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to voluntarily wear a basic cloth or fabric face mask to help curb the spread of the virus.