California town’s coronavirus mask orders stir complaints of government overreach, ‘nanny state’: report

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A new coronavirus edict on wearing masks in public in a Southern California town has elicited questions and angry comments about a “nanny state.”

The controversy erupted after Seal Beach officials announced late Friday that in a further effort to contain the coronavirus, residents must wear masks “when they leave their homes or places of residence,” according to the Orange County Register.

Officials said the new rule would go into effect at 6 a.m. Saturday and that police would “monitor public areas and essential businesses,” the paper reported.

(Seal Beach Police Department)

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“Those who must go outside can help protect others by taking the necessary precautions,” City Manager Jill Ingram said.

A careful reading shows the order was to apply to essential workers and those who interact with them – such as in grocery stores, drug stores, and take-out restaurants, the Register reported. Still, its wording stirred confusion.

On the Nextdoor site, some complained about “government overreach” and a “nanny state” according to the paper.

Seal Beach in Southern California.

Seal Beach in Southern California.
(Seal Beach Police Department)

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“They’ve now effectively made it impossible for anyone to go out and take a run,” read a post from one resident. “Don’t believe it? Try running with a mask on. This is outrageous.”

“Wearing a mask while walking in your neighborhood seems excessive,” another person said, according to the paper. “If there isn’t anyone around, I still have to wear my mask?!”

A third resident wrote, “This has crossed the line, and it’s time to start throwing tea in the harbor.”

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To address the confusion, on Saturday the Seal Beach Police Department issued a clarification on the mask order on its Facebook page, the Register reported.

In a post, the SBPD posed the question “What about when I’m doing non-essential activities like walking or exercising?” and then answered it.

“If you’re able to do it, wear a mask, a scarf, a bandana…something to cover your mouth. If anything, it shows you’re protecting yourself and everyone else,” the post said. “However, since it is not essential business, you’re not required to wear a mask.”

The department also said a mask wasn’t needed to walk a dog on the green belt.

In response to the clarification, one commenter asked, “So can we throw sticks at cyclists? Never gotten an answer on any cyclists questions?”

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The answer was a simple “no.”

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