NYC’s New Mask Fine Adds to America’s COVID-19 Confusion

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Following a recent spike in positive coronavirus tests, New York City instituted a fine on Sept. 29 — but Mayor Bill de Blasio said that no one was fined that day for refusal to wear a mask, the Associated Press reported.

As the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., several states and major cities are now requiring people to wear masks in public — and some are implementing hefty fines for violators. However, not every place is actively enforcing these fines — despite the fact that to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear face coverings in public and when around people outside their household, especially in circumstances where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

See which of the 50 most populous U.S. cities — in order from least populated to most — have mask mandates in place, and which are charging fines for noncompliance.

Last updated: Oct. 6, 2020

Wichita, Kansas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $2,500

Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order on July 2 requiring Kansas residents to wear masks in public and at places of work, the Associated Press reported. The order comes with no criminal penalties for those who don’t wear masks, but violators could face a civil fine of up to $2,500.

The mask mandate has recently been extended through Oct. 21 or until the countywide positive test rate drops below 5%, whichever comes first, The Witchita Eagle reported.

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New Orleans

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $500

Not wearing a mask is now considered a misdemeanor in New Orleans, which means violators can face a $500 fine and jail time, WVUE reported. However, the mandate is not being enforced by police, according to the New Orleans tourism website, so it’s unclear how fines would be given out.

Arlington, Texas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate on July 2 as the state’s coronavirus cases surged, The Texas Tribune reported. First-time offenders of the order will receive a written or oral warning, but subsequent offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $250.

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Pictured: Rob Matwick, executive vice president of Building Operations, answers questions from reporters during a tour of Globe Life Field, the newly-built home of the Texas Rangers, in Arlington.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Yes, but not specified

Tulsa enacted a mask mandate in July that requires the wearing of masks in public places and schools. The mandate was extended in October through Jan. 31, 2021.

Although there is no specific fine for not wearing a mask, it can be considered a crime: “Violators refusing to wear a face covering into a Place of Public Accommodation, Educational Institution, or Public Setting will be subject to prosecution under criminal trespass, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct or similar offenses as circumstances warrant,” the city’s website states.

Pictured: U.S. President Donald J. Trump holds campaign rally in Bank of Oklahoma Center on June 20, 2020.

Minneapolis

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

On May 26, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey passed an order requiring “any individual who is over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering […] to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face covering in accordance with CDC guidance when in indoor spaces of public accommodation.” This includes all businesses and educational, entertainment and recreation facilities. Violations could be treated as a misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $1,000, the Star Tribune reported.

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Pictured: Health worker finishes a drive-up test on a driver at People’s Center in Minneapolis during expanded coronavirus testing.

Oakland, California

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Yes, but not specified

On June 5, the county of Alameda implemented an order requiring residents to wear a face covering whenever they are outside their place of residence. Failure to follow the order is “punishable by fine, imprisonment or both,” though it is not specified what the fine would be.

Pictured: Painting Black Lives Matter on 15th Street in downtown Oakland.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

The state of Virginia passed an executive order requiring residents to wear face coverings while inside buildings, effective May 29. Public health officials, rather than law enforcement officers, are the ones responsible for enforcing the order. Although a violation can be considered a civil injection or Class One misdemeanor, “the Governor does not have the option to himself impose a civil penalty or fine,” the office of Gov. Ralph Northam told 13News Now.

Miami

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Miami issued an ordinance on June 25 that can fine people up to $500 for failing to cover their mouth and nose while in public, CBS News reported. On Sept. 25, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a new executive order that suspended fines and fees tied to local COVID-19 mitigation efforts, though wearing a mask is still required, the Miami Herald reported.

Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

On June 17, the city of Raleigh enacted an emergency proclamation requiring residents “to wear a clean face covering any time they are, or will be, in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance or where recommended social distancing practices are not being followed.” Compliance with the order is voluntary, and there is no fine for not wearing a mask, The News & Observer reported.

Pictured: Protesters gather in downtown Raleigh to protest Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Yes, but not specified

Colorado passed a mandatory mask-wearing requirement in July that recently was extended to Oct. 12. According to the executive order, “if you refuse to wear a mask as required […] you are violating a Colorado law and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. If you are asked to leave a store due to failure to wear a mask, and you refuse, you may be charged with trespassing.”

Pictured: Black Lives Matter supporters protesting in Colorado Springs.

Omaha, Nebraska

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $25

The city of Omaha requires all individuals age 5 and older to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while indoors. Individuals who violate the mandate are considered guilty of a misdemeanor and are subject to a fine of $25 for each offense.

Pictured: Man wears a face mask as he shops for fireworks at Wild Willy’s Fireworks tent in Omaha.

Long Beach, California

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

On June 18, the California Department of Public Health released new guidelines requiring residents to wear a face mask in most settings outside the home. The statewide order makes no mention of fines or other penalties for those who don’t comply.

Atlanta

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

On July 8, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order requiring face masks to be worn in public. According to 11Alive, “penalties for violations could include a citation, or, in strict enforcement, an arrest. If convicted, the sentence could include up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.”

Pictured: A man wearing a face shield to keep from getting the coronavirus riding an escalator at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

Kansas City, Missouri

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Yes, but not specified

Kansas City began requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public settings on June 29, The Kansas City Star reported. Failure to comply with the mask mandate is considered “an immediate menace to public health” and may come with a fine.

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Pictured: People maintain social distance as they ride a roller coaster at Worlds of Fun amusement park.

Mesa, Arizona

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $50

Mesa mandated the use of face masks “when physical distancing cannot be safely maintained” on June 22. According to the city’s face-covering proclamation, “the enforcement […] is not designed to be punitive. Enforcement will begin with education and may increase to fines or more, depending on the circumstance and severity of the violation(s).” After an individual or business is notified and given the opportunity to comply but continues to violate the order, they may be fined up to $50.

Pictured: A worshipper attends an outside drive-in Easter service at the Living Word church due to the coronavirus.

Sacramento, California

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Although the California Department of Public Health released guidelines requiring residents to wear a face mask in most settings outside the home as of June 18, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told NPR on July 8 that because of the “minor nature of the offense” and the “potential for negative outcomes,” his deputies won’t enforce the mandate.

Pictured: People wearing face masks take an escalator to the second floor of the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento.

Fresno, California

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Effective May 7, Fresno residents are required to “wear protective facial coverings when entering businesses and public places.” The order doesn’t mention any fines for noncompliance.

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Pictured: Mannequins wearing COVID-19 face masks of different patterns and colors for sale at a mall in Fresno.

Tucson, Arizona

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $50

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero signed an emergency proclamation to require the use of face masks beginning on June 27, News4Tucson reported. The mandate states that violators can be cited a $50 fine or five hours of community service.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $100

New Mexico became one of the first states to require face coverings to be worn in public when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham revised the emergency public health order to include a face mask mandate in mid-May, the Albuquerque Journal reported. On July 1, Lujan Grisham announced that her administration would begin “aggressively” enforcing the face mask mandate, with enforcement including $100 fines for those not in compliance.

Pictured: Woman blesses cars with sage as advocates prepare for a May Day car protest.

Milwaukee

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved an ordinance on July 13 that requires anyone in the city who is 3 years old or older to have a face covering when they leave home, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reported. Masks are required in buildings that are open to the public and when outside in a public space within 6 feet of any person who is not a household or family member. Owners and operators of public buildings are responsible for enforcing the mandate; although there’s no mention of fines for individuals, building owners and operators who don’t enforce the mandate could be fined between $50 and $500.

Pictured: Joanna Poja cuts Claude Krawczyk’s hair at Spectrum Salon in Milwaukee.

Baltimore

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $5,000

As of April 18, Baltimore has required the wearing of face coverings while using public transportation and while visiting a retail or dining establishment. Fines can be pretty steep for those who don’t wear a mask — it’s considered a misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $5,000.

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Pictured: Safer At Home sign over a highway in Baltimore

Louisville, Kentucky

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Yes, but not specified

On July 10, Gov. Andy Beshear passed an executive order requiring Kentuckians to wear a mask or facial covering in public, WLKY reported. Those who don’t comply can get a warning, and repeated refusal could lead to a fine, the governor said — though he did not specify the fine amount.

Pictured: A Starbucks employee gives a customer their change at a drive-thru window in Louisville.

Las Vegas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Nevada implemented a statewide mask mandate in late June. Although there are no fines for individuals who do not wear face coverings, businesses — who are responsible for enforcing the mandate — could face consequences, 8 News Now reported. If any employee or customer is caught without a face covering or seen to be ignoring social distancing regulations, the business establishment could face a $250 fine, a license suspension or be shut down.

Oklahoma City

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $100

Oklahoma City requires everyone age 11 and up to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces. People who refuse to wear a mask or leave the property when asked to are subject to a fine of $9 for a first or second offense and up to $100 for third or subsequent offense.

Pictured: People wait to speak with representatives from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission about unemployment claims, in Midwest City.

Portland, Oregon

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,250

All Oregonians ages 12 and older are required to wear a face mask in public indoor places as of July 1, Oregon Live reported. Failure to comply could come with a potential maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,250 fine.

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $20

The Memphis City Council passed a mandate requiring individuals to wear face coverings while in businesses and public places. There is no fine for a first offense, but subsequent offenses can come with fines of up to $20 — though this fine can be waived by completing community service.

Nashville, Tennessee

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $50

Nashville began requiring face coverings in indoor and outdoor public places on June 29, News Channel 5 Nashville reported. Failure to comply is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which comes with a fine of up to $50.

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Detroit

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $500

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has mandated Michigan residents to wear masks in every enclosed public space, News 10 reported. However, fines only apply to individuals who don’t wear masks in specific public places, including food-selling establishments and pharmacies. Not wearing a face covering in these places is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently voted to strike down Whitmer’s emergency order, so it now expires on Oct. 23, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.

Boston

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $300

On May 1, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order “requiring residents to use a face covering in public places when they cannot socially distance from others,” Boston.com reported. Those who don’t comply with the order can be fined up to $300 per violation.

El Paso, Texas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Because Texas has a statewide mandate, the same rules apply in El Paso as in Arlington. First-time offenders of the mask mandate will receive a written or oral warning, but subsequent offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $250.

Pictured: Nurses speak to reporters as they prepare a protest outside their work at the Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.

Washington

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

The mayor of Washington, D.C., passed an order requiring individuals to wear face coverings while in a place of business and while traveling if the physical distance cannot be maintained. Individuals who don’t comply with the order can be fined up to $1,000, NPR reported.

Denver

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $999

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock issued an order requiring residents and employees to wear masks while inside — or waiting outside — retail or commercial businesses, healthcare facilities and while taking public transportation, the Denver Post reported. Individuals who do not wear a mask can face a $999 fine.

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Pictured: Fast food worker at Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Denver serving food to a drive-thru customer.

Seattle

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $100

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a public health order mandating people in Washington State to wear face coverings in public places beginning June 26, the Associated Press reported. Individuals who violate the statewide mask order can be punished with up to 90 days in jail and up to a $100 fine.

Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order requiring face masks to be worn in public that went into effect on June 26, WECT reported. Law enforcement cannot criminally enforce the mask mandate against individuals, though businesses can refuse service to customers not wearing a face mask.

Pictured: Graduating senior waits in his car to receive his diploma at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a graduation event in Concord.

Fort Worth, Texas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Texas’ statewide mask mandate applies to individuals in Fort Worth, which means repeat offenders can be fined up to $250.

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Pictured: Officials wearing masks watch as Sungjae Im, of South Korea, tees off at the first hole during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

Indianapolis

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

Beginning on July 9, Indianapolis has required everyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask in public indoor spaces and outdoors where social distancing is not possible, Fox 59 reported. The mandate includes workspaces where people don’t have individual offices and all stores and restaurants when you’re not eating. Violators of the public health order could be fined up to $1,000.

Pictured: Bubba Wallace stands during the national anthem before a NASCAR auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Columbus, Ohio

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $25

Columbus City Council passed a resolution on July 6 requiring masks to be worn in public, 10TV reported. Failure to comply will result in a warning for the first violation and a fine of $25 for any subsequent violations.

San Francisco

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed and director of health Dr. Grant Colfax announced that everyone in the city is required to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, effective April 17. Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told ABC 7 that noncompliance could result in a ticket with a fine of up to $1,000.

Jacksonville, Florida

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

The City of Jacksonville announced a mandatory mask requirement “for public and indoor locations, and in other situations where individuals cannot socially distance” on June 29. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told ActionNewsJax.com that no fines will be given for those who don’t comply.

Pictured: Worker wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic wipes down padding on the octagon during a UFC 249 mixed martial arts bout in Jacksonville.

Austin, Texas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Texas’ statewide mask mandate applies to Austin as well, which means first-time offenders will receive a warning and repeat offenders can be fined up to $250.

San Jose, California

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $500

The San Jose council passed an ordinance on June 2 that requires people to wear masks while inside businesses, obtaining healthcare, engaging in infrastructure work or using public transit, San Jose Inside reported. And in August, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors announced that it will begin issuing fines of up to $500 for not wearing face masks or social distancing in public, San Jose Spotlight reported.

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Pictured: Couple drinks beverages outside of Olla Mexican restaurant in San Jose.

Dallas

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Dallas residents must adhere to Texas’ statewide mask mandate. First-time offenders will receive a warning and repeat offenders can be fined up to $250 per violation.

Pictured: Gustavo Ek prepares meals to be donated to unemployed restaurant workers in downtown Dallas.

San Diego

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

All San Diego County residents have been required to wear face coverings while in public since May 1, NBC 7 San Diego reported. Anyone not in compliance with the public health order could face a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

San Antonio

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

People in San Antonio are subject to Texas’ statewide mask mandate. First-time offenders will receive a warning and repeat offenders can be fined up to $250 per violation.

Philadelphia

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? $500

Pennsylvania secretary of health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered that face masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home on July 1, the York Daily Record reported. In Philadelphia, the penalty for a violation of COVID-19 orders is a fine of $500, WPVI reported.

Phoenix

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Face coverings are required in Phoenix, but enforcement of the mandate comes in the form of “education and information” rather than fines.

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Pictured: Face mask requirement sign at a GAP retail store in Phoenix

Houston

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $250

Houston — the most populous city in Texas — is subject to the statewide mask mandate. First-time offenders will receive a warning rather than a fine, but repeat offenders may be fined up to $250 per violation.

Pictured: Black Lives Matter supporters ride in on horses in downtown Houston during a protest over the death of George Floyd.

Chicago

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? No

Illinois has a statewide mask mandate that requires residents to wear a face mask in public when social distancing isn’t an option, ABC7 Chicago reported. There’s no punishment for individuals who do not wear a mask, Block Club Chicago reported, but businesses who do not enforce the mask mandate can be fined up to $2,500, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Los Angeles

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $500 in some areas

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an order requiring Angelenos to wear face coverings when they leave their homes and will be near other people. Although there is not a universal fine for all of Los Angeles, some areas have instated their own fines. West Hollywood can fine violators $250 plus a $50 fee, and Santa Monica can fine repeat offenders $500, CNN reported.

New York

  • Mask mandate? Yes

  • Fine? Up to $1,000

A New York State mandate requires everyone to wear a face covering when outside their home if they are unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sept. 29 that the city would impose fines of up to $1,000 on people who refuse to wear face coverings after the city’s positivity rate for coronavirus tests reached over 3% for the first time since June, NPR reported. However, he said that there had been no need to fine people during the first day the mandate was being enforced as individuals who were not wearing masks were compliant when asked to put one on, the Associated Press reported.

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