clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

All the Bay Area Counties That Fine Restaurants (and Diners) for Mask Law Violations

Restaurants could face fines as high as $10,000 if patrons break the rules

COVID-19 Cleanup
Santa Clara County will fine restaurants that fail to enforce face mask laws as much as $5000
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Ask any restaurateur: Add individual city and county health orders to the California state requirement that businesses enforce mask and social distancing laws, and things get very confusing, very quickly. When diners must be masked (as soon as they leave the table? Any time they’re not eating or drinking?) is a rapidly moving target, as many regions enact new emergency regulations at a moment’s notice. And now there’s the additional stress of tickets and fines in many counties, which means that already-struggling businesses might have to shell out even more cash if they don’t rapidly 86 scofflaw patrons.

As of publication time, 11 Bay Area cities and counties will cite restaurants where patrons aren’t following coronavirus rules, but expect this list to grow: As health officers say that consistent use of face coverings is the only way that the state might stabilize its skyrocketing coronavirus infection rate and allow additional business sectors (for example, indoor dining) to reopen, restaurants are facing more and more pressure to ensure that everyone is complying with face mask laws.

Contra Costa County

Current mask law: In addition to any other time you’re in public, if you’re ordering food, waiting for your food, or waiting for the check, you must have your face mask on. Full order.

Restaurant fines: $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second, $1,000 for any after that

Individual fines: $100 fine for the first violation, $200 for the second, $500 for any after that. Full ordinance.

Fremont

Current mask law: “As of April 16, 2020, until the local emergency is declared over, or unless otherwise stated, in Fremont all employees and customers/consumers are required to wear a face covering at certain essential places of business.” Full ordinance and order.

Restaurant fines: None, but note that in Fremont, a business is only allowed to refuse service to patrons who aren’t wearing a mask “if they have conspicuously posted a sign at the entrance of the business. If no sign is posted, they cannot refuse service.”

Individual fines: $100

Livermore

Current mask law: Livermore follows Alameda County’s health order, which says that people must wear face masks any time they are within six feet of people. “ a Face Covering is not required to be worn while eating or drinking. But the individuals must have a Face Covering readily available, and anyone walking to or from the location must wear a Face Covering when within six feet of anyone else,” it says. Full order.

Restaurant fines: No enforcement at the business level, yet.

Individual fines: First offence, $100. Second is $200, third and those thereafter at $500.

Marin County

Current mask law: Face coverings must be worn any time people are “inside public spaces or waiting in line to enter public spaces.”

Restaurant fines: $250 to $10,000

Individual fines: $25–$500. Full ordinance.

Monterey County

Current mask law: Masks must be work any time a person is inside or waiting in line at a business, as well as at all other times they’re in public. Full order.

Restaurant fines: None

Individual fines: $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second, $500 for those after that. Ordinance details here.

Napa County

Current mask law: Face coverings are not required when eating or drinking, but must be worn “when in public.” Full order.

Restaurant fines: $250–$10,000

Individual fines: $25–$500. Full ordinance.

Salinas

Current mask law: Masks must be worn “outside the home.” Full order and ordinance.

Restaurant fines: None

Individual fines: $100 for the first violation, $500 for the second, $1,000 for those after that

San Mateo County

Current mask law: Masks must be work any time residents “need to leave their home to work or obtain essential goods and services.” Full order.

Restaurant fines: $250–$3,000 per violation “depending on the gravity of the health risk, prior warnings and any good faith efforts to comply.”

Individual fines: $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, $500 for additional violations within the same year. Full ordinance.

Santa Clara County

Current mask law: “Everyone must comply with the Face Covering Guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, which requires most people to wear a face covering most of the time whenever they leave home.” Full order.

Restaurant fines: Tickets start at $250 and are capped at $5000.

Individual fines: Tickets start at $25 and cap off at $500. Full ordinance.

Santa Cruz (and unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County)

Current mask law: “Required while inside or waiting to enter any business, in any professional face-to-face interaction, and in any setting where people are present that do not live in the same household who cannot maintain more than 6 feet of separation.” Full order.

Restaurant fines: None

Individual fines: $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, $500 for the third within a the same year. Full ordinance.

Sonoma County

Current mask law: “All persons shall wear facial coverings before they enter any indoor facility besides their residence, any enclosed open space, or while outdoors when the person is unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person at all times.” Full order.

Restaurant fines: $500 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the offense.

Individual fines: $100.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Francisco newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world