Orange County sheriff says he won't enforce public mask order

The Orange County sheriff on Tuesday made it clear he will not enforce an order issued over the weekend requiring people to wear cloth face coverings in public.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Orange County sheriff on Tuesday made it clear he will not enforce an order issued over the weekend requiring people to wear cloth face coverings in public in the county.

Sheriff Don Barnes addressed the County Board of Supervisors, saying he would not ask his deputies to enforce the county health officer's order.

"We are not the mask police, nor do I intend to be the mask police," Barnes said, adding, "I know there is a shall order. Our deputies always have resulted or fallen back on education first to take appropriate measures, but we are not, have not, dealt with these issues through enforcement and I will direct my staff not to direct any enforcement towards the shall issue mask requirement."

More than 90 speakers showed up to the Board of Supervisors meeting, outraged by the new rule.

The director of the County's Health Care Agency, Dr. Clayton Chau, announced Tuesday that county counsel was reviewing a proposed revision to the order.

Cloth face coverings will still be required in public, in a place of business, a place of worship, at a cultural ceremony, social event, work or a protest, but only if a person is closer than six feet to others who don't live in the same household.

"The important piece here is when you are not able to keep a distance is when you must wear a mask," Chau said.

With infection still happening in OC, Chau said, protections need to be in place as more people leave their homes.

"As you open it up and then you're inviting people to come into the public because our numbers just barely look good, you have to have some means of protection for spreading," Chau said. "Otherwise you're asking for trouble."

Also Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against giving $75 million in CARES Act funds directly to cities to distribute to small businesses. Instead, $15 million will go to each district, where each supervisor will have discretion over handing out the federal money.
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