No Mask, No Service? 
Posted in Legal Bites
No Mask, No Service? 

On November 9, 2020, the City of Los Angeles adopted an ordinance permitting businesses to refuse entry to anyone entering the premises without a face covering. 

The ordinance adds Section 200.91 to the Municipal Code, which states: “[a]ny business owner or operator in the City of Los Angeles is authorized to refuse admittance or service to any person who refuses or fails to wear a Face Covering when on the premises of the business or when seeking or receiving service.”

A face covering is defined as “a face covering that covers the nose and mouth and is secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials such as cotton, silk, or linen. A face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. A compliant Face Covering does not include any face covering that incorporates a device, such as a valve, that facilitates air to exit from the face covering.”

This measure was first proposed in July 2020 by City Council Member Herb Wesson.  At the time, Wesson stated that Los Angeles should follow in the footsteps of New York City, and “assist businesses to employ sensible health practices by requiring face covering when entering a place of business.”  After receiving approval from a COVID-19 committee, the ordinance was unanimously approved at a City Council meeting on November 4, 2020, without discussion.  The Mayor then approved the ordinance, and it officially went into effect on November 9.  The ordinance is set to automatically expire on October 30, 2022.

The ordinance does not provide for any fines for customers who refuse to wear masks, or specific enforcement mechanism for businesses to use.  Some restaurant owners have experienced strong negative reactions from customers to employees enforcing mask policies and the effect of the new ordinance remains to be seen.

  • Pooja S. Nair
    Partner

    Pooja S. Nair is a business litigator and problem solver with a focus on the food and beverage sector. She advises food and beverage clients, startups and other businesses on a comprehensive range of issues, including employment ...

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