People wearing masks in public

Residents wearing masks while at food distribution in Banning on April 3.

A new public health order to help slow the spread of coronavirus now mandates residents in Riverside County to wear a mask whenever they leave the house; and although the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the Beaumont Police Department have the legal authority to ticket or arrest violators, both departments said they will not cite those defying the order.

In a video posted on the department Facebook page Monday, April 6, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco strongly advised residents to cover their mouths and noses when running essential errands.

In the video Bianco said, “I am pleading to you, my fellow Riverside County residents, for your cooperation and voluntary compliance with the orders given by our governor and county health officer. While this order does have potential criminal and civil consequences, that is the last thing I want to happen while we deal with this crisis,” Bianco said.

Riverside County Public Health Official Dr. Cameron Kaiser called for residents to stay home but, if they had an essential errand, appointment, or were an essential worker, to wear face coverings in public.

The County’s Public Health Department also expanded on the stay-at-home order from Gov. Newsom by prohibiting public and private gatherings of any size, excluding those who live in the same house.

Kaiser said that law enforcement agencies have the authority to enforce these orders, “as they deem necessary,” which run through April 30.

Authorities in San Diego County and Los Angeles County fined people last weekend, April 2-5, for not complying with stay-home orders.

But Bianco said although the order is valid and enforceable by fine, imprisonment or both, his department will not be ticketing residents.

“I need to make it perfectly clear to all residents of Riverside County that we will not be setting up any type of police state and this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County. Riverside County sheriff’s deputies will not be stopping vehicles or setting checkpoints for motorists. We will not be stopping you while on a walk with your kids or while you are out running or hiking. You will not be stopped and ticketed because you are not wearing a mask,” Bianco said.

Beaumont Chief of Police Sean Thuilliez echoed Bianco’s perfunctory stance on citing individuals for not wearing face masks in public, in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.

“While it is true that the orders from the County’s Department of Public Health are enforceable and can lead to a fine, imprisonment or both. The Beaumont Police Department will not and has not been stopping vehicles or setting up checkpoints, solely for the purpose of enforcing these orders,” Thuilliez said. “We will not stop you to issue tickets simply because you are not wearing a face covering.”

Both Bianco and Thuilliez did continually urge the public to protect themselves and their families, and the importance of complying with the new orders despite them not being enforced.

Bianco said if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for me. Do it for my family. Do it for your family.

Thuilliez reminded the public not to call 911 to report violations of the order, but to instead email pio@beaumontrd.org, if violations are egregious.

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