California has a statewide mask order.

However, I see people violating it all the time: pedestrians getting closer than 6 feet to each other while not wearing masks. (Occasionally, I also see people shopping indoors without masks, but this question is about pedestrians)

Has a pedestrian ever been fined for violating the mask order?

(A previous question I posted was unintentionally broader, while this one is asking about pedestrians, specifically)

  • 2
    Has there ever been a pedestrian in California?
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 8:19
  • 1
    @NateEldredge A person outdoors, on public land (sidewalk, park)
    – MWB
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 22:32
  • in 2020 or does 1918 count?
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 22:46
  • @Trish 2020 :-)
    – MWB
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 23:25
  • 1
    @NateEldredge Who on Earth would consider someone inside a building to be a pedestrian? Really? Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 2:26

2 Answers 2


1918: Mask Laws

Mask laws are not new. During the Spanish Flu, mask wearing in San Fransico was mandatory. And because people hated the masks, mask enemies in 1919 banded together in San Fransisco. Especially, since fining people for violations was doled out heavily and could land you in jail. 5$ then was more than a week's pay! Police Court was held outdoors in Portsmouth Square, San Francisco - including over mask violations for disturbing the peace:

While the vast majority of San Franciscans followed the mask order, police arrested one hundred and ten people on October 27 alone for failure to either wear or keep their masks properly adjusted.14 Each was charged with “disturbing the peace,” and the majority given a $5 fine, with the money to go to the Red Cross. Nine unfortunate souls arraigned before one particular judge were sentenced to short terms in the county jail. The next day, another group of fifty violators were arrested; five were sent to jail, and seven others given fines of $10 apiece. Arrests continued in the following days, with the majority receiving small fines and a few being sentenced to a few days in jail.[...]16

16 “Influenza Disappearance Signaled by Whistle Blast at Noon,” San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Nov. 1918, 1.

2020: Mask Laws - Electric Bogaloo

While the 1918 pandemic is long forgotten, the Coronavirus of 2019 did bring a resurgance of mask laws. Like in Santa Monica, which between March an August 2020 did shut down 91 business temporarily for mask violations and dole out fines of 100 to 1000 USD to the violator and the catering business:

Since March 17, Code Enforcement has completed 23,093 business checks, issued 88 citations and 91 stop work orders to Santa Monica businesses for various COVID-19 violations, said Constance Farrell, the City's spokesperson.

These include violations of the face covering order, which carries fines of up to $500 for patrons and $1,000 for businesses, Farrell said.

And Santa Monica was not alone: 17 or more cities did put a fine for violation of the mask orders on the books.

And apparently, Santa Monica also did fine at least 10 people, among them three pedestrians, as a news article from August 11 2020 says (emphasis mine):

Santa Monica issued ten citations and 33 warnings during a "special operation" Thursday to enforce the City's face covering order in public parks and business districts, according to City officials.

During the operation, enforcers visited 533 businesses, and issued seven citations, officials said. Three citations -- with fines starting at $100 -- were issued to individuals in public spaces.

While violations might be rampant and enforcement spotty elsewhere in Febuary 2021, some fines were handed out. Santa Monica itself claims, that in about 11 months since March 2020, they conducted 57,800 business compliance checks - about double the number from the first 5 months. However, while more than 3000 masks were given out and 1100 thrown out of businesses for violations, only 63 were fined. That makes the initial 10 a whooping 15% of all citations to private citizens. At least 5% (3) of these were given to pedestrians - the 3 from the initial batch of 10.

  • Three citations -- with fines starting at $100 -- were issued to individuals in public spaces. I don't think this necessarily refers to pedestrians (people outdoors).
    – MWB
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 17:56
  • @bobcat public spaces are parks or sidewalks - where you are a pedestrian.
    – Trish
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 18:09
  • 2
    A public space can be a library or whatnot.
    – MWB
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 18:15

Despite the statewide mask order and local mask mandates, I do not believe that people are actually getting fined, or at least I could not find any evidence of it.

On the contrary, even in San Francisco, where one might expect the strictest enforcement of mask wearing (if it exists anywhere), many pedestrians are flouting the regulations, as some reporters describe:

I Asked 100 People to Put on a Mask — And Got a Lot of Middle Fingers

  • I have found evidence of the contrary - The mask laws are at times enforced with fines. Santa Monica did fine at least 10 people.
    – Trish
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 15:39
  • make that 63 on Febuary 13th 2021
    – Trish
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 16:11

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