Coronavirus: Wearing a mask is now mandatory in Contra Costa County, but in reality not much has changed

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- When it comes to being required to wear a mask outside, people ABC7's Eric Thomas talked to fell into three categories.

People like Carlos who thought it was a good idea.

"You gotta obey the law somehow and there are consequences if you don't," he said.

People like Britani can live with the new guideline.

"If it's required, I'll wear it but I'm not scared about what's going on." she said.

And people like Bonnie, say they'll only wear one when they have to.

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"When I'm with my mom and she's a little paranoid, I'll put the mask on, but usually I don't," she said.

Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna with Contra Costa County Health Services says that's one reason it's no longer a suggestion.

"Recommendations are good and we often start with those but at some point we need to make it the law," Dr. Radhakrishna.

Wednesday was the first day the guideline became law in the county.

But as a practical matter not much has changed.

Now authorities will have the power to write citations and issue fines of up to $1,000, but Dr. Radhakrishna says they probably won't - at least not right away.

"We're really asking the public to be good Samaritans and kindly educate their neighbors and for the pubic to comply," Radhakrishna said.

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Under the order, anyone over the age of 12 must wear a mask. For those under 12, it's preferred but not mandatory.

Masks are discouraged for kids under the age of two because it may make it difficult to breathe.

Many businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies are now requiring customers to put on a mask before they enter.

Dr. Nasser AbouKhalil, the owner of Oak Grove Pharmacy, estimates that 90 percent of his customers obey the mask sign.

As for the other ten percent, he's hopeful they'll wear one next time.

"If they are not wearing a mask I ask them if they have seen the sign and I ask them hopefully next time they will have a mask," he said.

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