Californians are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide order on June 17. People are required to wear masks or other coverings in public spaces, including while taking public transportation, seeking medical care, shopping, and in most work scenarios.
Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that one of the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus is to wear a face-covering over one's nose and mouth, but it has still proven to be one of the pandemic's more partisan issues.
There has even been a card circulating online, usually shared on Facebook, which is falsely claiming its holder is lawfully exempt from wearing a mask, according to the Department of Justice.
A recently issued alert by the DOJ is urging the public not to heed information printed on the fraudulent cards, which purport to carry the authority of the "Freedom to Breathe Agency," which is neither a federal nor a state agency.
The fake card states that wearing a mask will incur mental or physical risk for the holder. The card also posits that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids raising questions about the health condition aggravated by mask usage. Penalties are threatened if a business owner does not act accordingly.
“I am not aware of any encounter here in San Diego where a phony card was presented,” said San Diego Police spokesperson Shawn Takeuchi, adding, where mask-wearing is concerned, “It would be an officer’s discretion whether or not to issue a citation to a person who is not wearing a mask in violation of the county health order.
“Remember, a citation is not an admission of guilt. It is a promise to appear in court. The person cited would have the opportunity to present their evidence in court.”
Thus far, local businesses surveyed say they haven’t had much trouble with people not wearing masks.
“We require all of our customers to wear masks and there’s a sign at the door,” said Sandy Hanshaw, owner of The Wine Pub in Point Loma Village. “We’ve had a handful of people enter without one. But when we ask them to wear one, they either have one on them and put it on, or we have free ones to give out. It is interesting to see the varying degrees of people’s response to the mandate.”
Added Hanshaw, “I haven’t run into any fake ADA medical cards.”
“We have been lucky not to have had to deal with too many refusing to wear a mask,” said Chris Peregoy of Ocean Beach Business Center at 4876 Santa Monica Ave. “Most have been very understanding of the need/requirement.
“I can think of only two instances where we've had to refuse service for someone that didn't have a mask. Those are certainly difficult conversations to have with our loving customer base, but a necessary one in this climate.”
Added Peregoy: “We had one customer last week come in with these fake cards stating for medical purposes they are not required to wear a mask. But it was only to print and laminate them for him, and he had a mask on when ordering it from us. We haven't had anyone present this card to us when trying to do business with us.”