Two Los Angeles-area cities are going in very different directions on coronavirus enforcement this month, demonstrating the same differences seen around the country over how tightly to implement health protocols.
The city of Burbank is beginning to crack down on people who fail to wear masks in busy public spaces, authorizing the issuing of fines from $100 to $500.
Meanwhile the city of Santa Clarita is allowing trick-or-treating this Halloween, even as state and county officials attempt to strongly discourage such activities.
California health officials recently made it abundantly clear: They won't completely ban trick-or-treating this Halloween, but they really don't want California kids to do it.
"Costume parties and door-to-door trick-or-treating pose a risk of spreading COVID-19 and therefore are strongly discouraged, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services.
Los Angeles County officials have echoed that concern, saying door-to-door contact could be a superspreader of the virus.
In Santa Clarita, Mayor Cameron Smyth says residents can go ahead with the Halloween tradition.
"If people wanted to trick or treat, you still should do it safely and respectfully but it is not prohibited as opposed to some other activities," Smyth said.
Smyth says the city is not encouraging people to trick or treat, but the option is there if families feel comfortable doing it and take the proper precautions.
"Our young people have lost schooling, they've lost their activities. My wife and daughter are planning to go out and we'll follow all the guidelines and be respectful of our neighbors."
The city of Burbank is taking a stricter approach, now ticketing people for not wearing face coverings in four areas of the city that have been subject to complaints: The Chandler bikeway, downtown Burbank, the Magnolia Park business district and city parks. Fines start at $100 for a first offense and rise to $500 for multiple subsequent offenses.
"We really don't want to see anybody get a citation," said Sgt. Derek Green with the Burbank Police Department. "This is really about increasing the compliance rate."
Burbank officials say an increase in mask-related complaints sparked the new enforcement.
It's considered an administrative enforcement, so police will not get involved unless an encounter escalates to a crime. The city has contracted with an independent company that will have represents out mainly on the weekends, at first trying to educate people and then issuing administrative citations if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District is hoping to put a dent into the flu season as well as COVID-19. The district is now offering free flu shots to all its students and their families.
Santa Clarita to allow trick-or-treating with precautions, despite state warnings
The city of Santa Clarita will allow trick-of-treating this Halloween despite state warnings, while the city of Burbank is starting to issue fines for those who fail to wear face coverings in public.
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