By Aisha Sander Updated June 19, 2020
Bruce Bracker, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors*, signed a proclamation that requires all residents in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County to wear face coverings in public, effective immediately as of 11:40 a.m. on June 19, 2020.
The proclamation details what kind of face covering, defines public space, enforcement and penalties for not wearing one.
The face covering must cover both the mouth and nose and cannot have an exhale valve. A public place is defined as “any place, indoor or outdoor, that is open to public and includes, but is not limited to, businesses or other establishments where people assemble or members of the general public may enter; offices; grocery stores pharmacies, or retail establishments; public buildings, highways, and parks; and public transportation, including taxicabs and ride sharing.”
The proclamation lists nine exemptions for mask wearing, ranging from children under two years old, swimming, and temporarily while eating at a restaurant. You can read the entire list on page four of the proclamation linked above.
Section 5 states that no person can enter government buildings, including open space areas without a face covering.
Section 6 addresses establishments. “Establishments that are open to the public must provide face coverings to their employees and require them to wear them. Additionally, establishments that are open to the public and in which continuous physical distancing of at least six feet between persons cannot be easily maintained may refuse to allow a person who is not exempt under section 4 and who is not wearing a face covering to enter the establishment and may request that a person inside the establishment leave if the person is not exempt under section 4 and is not wearing a face covering.”
The proclamation addresses compliance and enforcement in section 7. “The primary focus of the enforcement is education and promotion of best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigating the spread of Covid-19. A person must be notified of the provisions of this Proclamation and given an opportunity to comply before any further enforcement action is taken against the person. If available, law enforcement shall issue a pamphlet with educational information regarding the spread of Covid-19 and the benefits of wearing a face covering. If a person refuses to wear a face covering or leave a public place after notification pursuant to, the person is in violation of this Proclamation. Violation of this Proclamation is a class 1 misdemeanour.”
Class 1 misdemeanour carries a fine of up to $2500 and is punishable by up to six months in jail.
If an individual receives a citation for not wearing a face covering because of a medical condition, than as Section 8 of this proclamation states, the individual “shall present to the Court a medical excuse from a physician, nurse practitioner, or a physicians assistant to establish the defence.”
This is in response to Governor Doug Ducey modifying his “Returning Stronger” Executive Order to allow local governments to enforce extra measures on June 17. Ducey changed his order because of local officials requesting him to make this amendment as well as an alarming rise of new cases in Arizona this week.
In the county’s press release, Bracker said, “we are grateful for the Governor’s new Executive Order that allows the County to put in place the mandatory use of faces masks in public places. This pandemic is taking a heavy toll on Santa Cruz County, Arizona and the nation. Face masks will go a long way towards helping to prevent the spread of this deadly virus and I ask every resident in our community, or any visitor to our county, to wear one, no matter the place or how quickly they will be in and out of a store, a restaurant or a public office or public space where other people are present. We will continue to focus on this situation until the COVID-19 virus is defeated.”
Finally, “this Proclamation shall remain in full force and effect until lawfully amended or terminated.”
The Town of Patagonia Manager Ron Robinson said as of now the Town will align with what the County does. However, many questions remain and “I want to think through this,” said Robinson. For example, “how is public space being defined? Does somebody riding their bike alone on the street need to be wearing a mask?” said Robinson. Mayor Andrea Wood and Manager Ron Robinson have signed a community announcement requiring face masks starting Sunday, June 21.
The City of Nogales and Tucson have both instituted mandatory face masks for their jurisdictions this week as well. Cochise county and the city of Sierra Vista have decided not to implement additional measures as of now.
*Note that the County Board of Supervisors covers all unincorporated areas of the county such as Sonoita and Elgin but not incorporated areas such as the Town of Patagonia.