Danville Bowl pushes back against indoor mask mandate despite possible fines

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area's indoor mask mandate is now in its second day and already has seen some push back.

The owner of Danville Bowl made it clear on social media that he's refusing to enforce the new rule. The violation could bring fines, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office.

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Katie Messina brought her kids to Danville Bowl for a fun Wednesday afternoon but noticed not everyone was wearing masks, because management isn't requiring them.

"I think if he's in violation of county laws, that's a problem," said Messina.

Owner Justin Oertel didn't want to go on camera but told his Facebook followers Tuesday:
"The Danville Bowl is well aware of the mask mandate that went into effect today, with that being said, we will NOT be enforcing it. We believe everyone has the right to freedom and not constant retracting restrictions from the government. If you like to wear your mask inside while you bowl, feel free. If you don't want to, that's okay."

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Oertel has supporters, like Lori Waidelich who wants to have a bowling party here with friends.

"I believe it's his business, he owns it, he had to suffer through COVID. We can make the decision if we want to go in with a mask or not," said Waidelich.

In Downtown Danville, mask signs are posted. Business owners say for now, customers are complying.

"I think everyone's on the same page getting past this, moving on getting things back to normal," said Derek Mello at America's Finest Hemp Company.

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But the frustration is being felt around town.

"It's just really tough going backwards, when we we're getting away from masks but it is what it is, you know," said Michelle Tompkins from San Ramon.

Kevin Carlson says he's disappointed masks have become so divisive.

"As an American, we need to show fortitude on sticking with it, and getting through it. I haven't seen that cohesion in society, I'd like to but I don't know what it's going to take to get there," said Carlson.

A spokesperson from the Contra Costa County DA's office said a business could face a $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, $1,000 for the third. And once they hit number 3, they could then face $1,000 each day a violation exists.

In a statement, Contra Costa County said:
"The goal is not to penalize businesses or individuals, but to help protect the public from a dangerous, highly contagious virus that has killed more than 800 county residents so far, and is swiftly filling our local hospitals with sick patients. Hospitalizations in Contra Costa due to COVID-19 increased more than 400% in July, and beds continue to fill rapidly."


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