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Officials warn against fraudulent face mask exemption cards


MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) More people flock to the Monterey Fisherman's Wharf as businesses open, but not everyone chooses to wear the Centers for Disease Control's most recommended accessory.

"I understand the reasoning behind it. Of course, it is a little bit annoying," said visitor, Nick Alexander.

Numerous signs remind visitors about Monterey County's mask requirement, but businesses said the message isn't sinking in. "The only difficulty would be having to enforce the masks. Not everybody wants to wear them," said Natalie Cordova, who works at Harbor House Gift Shop.

Some have tried to get out of wearing a mask altogether by flashing a card made the "Freedom to Breathe Agency."

The card states that its owner cannot wear a mask due to mental and/or physical risk. What appears to be a symbol from the United States Department of Justice is included.

"People shouldn't think that by holding a card like this that they can go and not wear a mask," said Monterey County Chief Assistant District Attorney, Berkley Brannon.

A photo of the card recently circulated on a Monterey County-based social media page.

Brannon said anyone involving in distributing the card could face fraud charges. "This is the first instance I've seen where you have, what appears to be, a material misrepresentation that would allow someone to profit off the COVID-19 crisis," said Brannon.

The United State Department of Justice warned the public about the cards. The Americans with Disability Act website released a statement that reads: "These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department."

Monterey County's mask order has been active since April 30, 2020 and requires all people over the age of 12 to cover their face while in public.

Coronavirus / Health / Monterey County / News

Megan Meier

Megan Meier is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.



    1. The guidance that I have to follow only states: “Face coverings are not required for anyone who has trouble breathing” My inhaler and copy of my prescription is all I need to prove my condition, but…I still wear a mask when I go into stores, or into work or really anywhere there are people. I think of my condition as a ‘get out jail free card’ just in case I get caught in an inadvertent breach of mask protocol. I think at some point in the future, if things get bad enough, people will start taking enforcement into their own hands. At some point, not wearing a mask with be akin to endangering others, and some people might not like being in danger.

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