Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes vows that his department will not enforce a health order that will require residents to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barnes made this announcement on Tuesday. “We are not the mask police — nor do I intend to be the mask police,” he told the county Board of Supervisors. “I think what we have seen repeatedly throughout the community is Orange County residents acting responsibly.”
The sheriff added that the department’s focus has been education, as “Orange County residents are adults.”
“They can take the protective measures as they see fit,” he said. “We have not dealt with these issues through enforcement, and I will direct my staff not to direct any enforcement toward the … mask requirement.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that the sheriff’s statement came “in response to a question from board Chairwoman Michelle Steel, who asked how the department planned to enforce a health order issued Friday.”
The requirement orders Orange County residents to wear cloth face coverings while in public. This includes while being at work or visiting a business wherein social distancing would be difficult.
As for Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva and LAPD Chief Michel Moore, they said they had no plans to cite anyone for not wearing a mask.
Health officials in Orange County previously said that wearing facial coverings is essential. They, however, “had stopped short of mandating such efforts,” as reported by The Los Angeles Times.