The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an ordinance that allows officials to fine people and businesses for violating coronavirus pandemic health orders, such as not wearing masks and not practicing social distancing.
For individuals, the fines are $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense. For businesses, the fines are much steeper, starting at $250 and going up to $1,000.
People and businesses can appeal the fines, but that will require filing a written appeal within 10 days.
Critics argue that the fines are flat out unconstitutional, but county officials say they are a necessary tool to bring COVID-19 infections down.
"We’re not doing it to make money," Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis said. "We’re not doing it to try to control people. We’re trying to get control over this disease."
Nelson Pamphile of Martinez said personal freedoms are getting trampled in the name of public safety.
"I have the right to use my own discernment and choose for myself," he said. "It should be optional. It shouldn’t be mandatory."