California Residents Must Wear Face Coverings in Public, Governor Orders

J. Clara Chan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered on Thursday that all Californians must wear face coverings while in public or other “high-risk situations,” which include indoor public spaces and outdoor spaces where staying 6 ft. apart from other people is not “feasible.”

“The risk for COVID-19 remains and the increasing number of Californians who are leaving their homes for work and other needs, increases the risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection,” the order states. “The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce physical distancing.”

The face coverings must cover the nose and mouth and should not be re-worn without being washed with hot water in between uses. If that is not possible, residents should wash their hands immediately after putting the face covering back on and should avoid touching their faces. Any masks that are damaged with holes and tears or otherwise do not fully cover the nose and mouth and cannot stay on the face should be discarded, the order states.

The order notes that the face-covering requirement does not substitute existing guidelines around physical distancing and hand washing.

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Face coverings are also required for people who are working at an office or off-site when they’re interacting with others or when using spaces that are visited by other members of the public — regardless of whether someone is in that space at the same time or not. People who are driving public transportation or shared vehicles, like Uber or Lyft, must also wear face coverings when passengers are present.

For indoor public spaces, Californians must also wear face coverings when they’re standing in line to enter that space. And anyone being treated in a space that offers health care of any kind — including pharmacies — or where food is prepared or packaged must wear masks.

Those with physical disabilities or mental health conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings are exempt from the order. Children under the age of two are also not required to wear face coverings because of suffocation risks, and those who are exercising outdoors and can remain 6 ft. away from others do not have to wear them either.

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