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Few Citations Issued For Mandatory Masks
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A special meeting was held back in July where the Riverbank City Council unanimously approved an Urgency Ordinance requiring mandatory face masks for all businesses and their customers. The Ordinance included citations and fines for the businesses that do not comply. It has been a little over a month since the Ordinance was approved and authorities report that most businesses in the city of Riverbank have complied with this order.

At the time the numbers of COVID-19 were increasing in Stanislaus County so in an attempt to stop the spread the City Council adopted the ordinance. Since then there have been three citations issued to businesses in Riverbank. Although the ordinance is a “complaint based system” City staff has made a visit to several businesses to inform them of the new order and have also distributed boxes of masks if needed.

City Manager Sean Scully added that the mask mandate will continue until the State order changes or the city council decides to lift the local order. He said the businesses are given a first time warning and then the code enforcement officer or city staff returns the next day to make sure they are in compliance.

“The last thing we want to do is cite a business,” stated Scully. “So far the compliance with the mask ordinance has been excellent. The vast majorities of our businesses complied right away or were already complying.”

Vice Mayor Luis Uribe expressed that all the complaints that are made against businesses are investigated.

“Thus far we have only had to issue a couple of citations for mask noncompliance,” remarked Uribe. “Almost all businesses contacted after complaints were filed made necessary changes to comply immediately. Overall if you figure that we have well over a hundred businesses that have public locations in Riverbank the overall compliance has been excellent; well over 95 percent roughly.”

Scully noted that along with visiting the businesses that received complaints they also made some stops to educate business owners. They do their initial visit then a follow up to make sure the business is requiring customers to wear masks. Every call is investigated and verified prior to any citations issued. They may not be given the citation the same day dependent on the workload or the length of the investigation.

“We also do spot checks on businesses to make sure that they are continuing to enforce mask compliance and in general, we have been pleased with the buy-in from the business community,” said Uribe.

The fine structure of the Ordinance is as follows: the code enforcement officer may issue a warning to the business responsible for the violation or issue an administrative citation of a $250 fine for the first violation. The second violation will be a fine of $500 and the third fine and for all subsequent violations will be $1000.

“The response overall has been excellent and we have really appreciated businesses complying with the ordinance,” explained Scully. “We hope that these efforts can lead to reducing the spread then hopefully getting our sectors approval to reopen and get back to business.”

There still is no cure for the virus and regulations continue to change as in a recent announcement from Governor Gavin Newsom that some hair salons and barbershops are allowed to reopen indoors with modifications.