Houston is the latest city to announce fines for residents who refuse to wear masks in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus, joining a growing list of local and state governments — some of which are handing out citations up to $1,000.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Monday that the city will start fining people $250 for not wearing a mask in public.
“Today, I am announcing that we will begin issuing citations to people who are not wearing [a] mask under the state’s mandatory mask order. [Houston police] will issue warnings and citations to anyone not wearing a mask in public, if they don’t meet the criteria for an exemption,” Turner wrote on Twitter.
Other local officials have made similar announcements as states like Texas, Arizona, California and Florida have seen concerning upticks in cases.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a statewide $100 fine for those who don’t wear a mask in public.
Fines in a number of California cities, including Glendale, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and others, range from $100 for first-time violations to up to $2,000 for repeated violations.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Browser announced a $1,000 fine on July 22 for all mask mandate violations.
In Miami, police reportedly issued Dean Gonzalez a $110 citation for not wearing his mask “properly” because it was not covering his nose, according to WPLG. Gonzalez told the outlet that he was issued the fine only after his mask slipped while talking to officers.
“It was like a trap,” Gonzalez said, adding that law enforcement should use “a little more common sense than ticketing people with masks on their actual face” instead of ticketing those who aren’t wearing masks at all.
Oregon resident John Kulbeth was arrested after refusing to wear his mask during a court appearance, despite keeping his distance from other people, according to local news outlet The Register-Guard.
The incidents come as officials across the country crack down on lockdown procedures and local activities in an effort to contain the continuous spread of COVID-19.
The topic of wearing a mask became politicized in the early months of the pandemic as some Americans expressed the belief such a mandate is a violation of U.S. freedoms, while health officials advised they are necessary to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading and infecting at-risk individuals as states begin to reopen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear masks “in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
President Trump on Monday sent a campaign email urging his supporters to wear masks after not wearing a mask to a number of press events during the early months of the pandemic.
“We are all in this together, and while I know there has been some confusion surrounding the usage of face masks, I think it’s something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others,” the Trump campaign email read.