Updated June 26, 2020 - 3:46 pm
Police departments in Clark County will not criminally enforce Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive requiring people to wear masks in nearly all public spaces to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Instead, as of Friday — the first full day the new mandate was in effect — police officers in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas planned to educate the public on the benefits of wearing facial coverings.
When the mandate was announced Wednesday, Sisolak said those who disobey the directive could be cited or face a civil penalty.
“I would hope that we would not get to that point where I have police officers walk around with a ticket book for people,” he said.
The directive applies to all indoor public spaces and in outdoor spaces where people might congregate and where social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. Exemptions include children under 10 and those with medical conditions or disabilities that would prevent them from wearing a mask. The directive also requires businesses to institute a “no mask, no service” policy.
“The City of Henderson Police Department recognizes the use of facial coverings and social distancing as an effective method to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and supports these practices when residents are in public places,” the department wrote in an emailed statement. “In the spirit of collaboration, we believe educating people on the requirements and asking for compliance, our citizens will comply with Governor Sisolak’s recent directive.”
Across town, the North Las Vegas Police Department will lead by example, according to officer Alexander Cuevas. All officers are required to wear masks while on duty, and “will remind the public about masks and encourage them to adhere to the Governor’s orders.”
Cuevas said the department also will work with Clark County officials and the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration on business code enforcement.
Similarly, Las Vegas police spokeswoman Alejandra Zambrano said Friday that noncompliant businesses would “fall under the responsibility of business licensing” officials in Clark County and in the city of Las Vegas.
But “in regards to criminal enforcement, there are numerous exemptions in the Directive regarding people in public not wearing a mask,” Zambrano said. “Specifically, law enforcement cannot verify a medical condition claim that would exempt a person from wearing a mask.”
The governor’s directive comes on the heels of surging infection rates in the state and widespread public disregard for guidance on the use of masks.