LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- Law enforcement officers say they could start writing tickets today to people who aren't wearing masks in public. Masks are now required in six Bay Area counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Sonoma.
"We are looking for compliance through diplomacy. That's what we call it," said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
You now must have your mouth and nose covered to go inside an essential business in most Bay Area counties. Masks are also required on mass transit. BART's officers won't let people on the trains without a mask. AC Transit is sending out alerts to make sure riders are aware.
Officials think this new requirement will help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Sgt. Kelly has been monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases in the county's Office of Emergency Services. He says we are headed in the right direction.
"We know here in the Bay Area, we have lowered the curve. We absolutely are seeing that," Sgt. Kelly said.
He looks forward to seeing what happens now that masks are required.
"We are definitely seeing our numbers well within the range we need so we don't have a surge on hospitals, which was one of our major concerns," he said.
Sgt. Kelly says non-compliance could result in a ticket with a fine of up to $1000. But they don't want to fine people, especially during this time. They'd rather educate and encourage compliance. They do expect that citizens will police each other- but they say, be careful.
"I would imagine people will confront others about the mask thing. If you're going to do that, be careful about who are talking with and kind of stay in your lane. If someone is not wearing a mask and you are concerned, your best bet is to just move away," he advised.
Children under the age of 12 are not required to wear a mask. Runners and cyclists also can forego the mask but are encouraged to have it with them in case they encounter other people.
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