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New Health Order Mandates Californians To Wear Masks In Most Public Settings

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Californians will be required to wear face masks in most public settings statewide, according to a new order from the state health authorities.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the mask mandate was required because not enough people were choosing to wear masks in public – despite the urging of health officials that face coverings will help stop the spread of coronavirus.

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Newsom said.  "California's strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations."


The new guidance requires people to wear a mask while waiting in lines, riding public transportation, and walking in common areas where physical distancing is not possible, among other scenarios.

"As Californians venture into our communities more, wearing face coverings is another important way we can help protect one another," said State Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell in a prepared statement. "Combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, wearing cloth face coverings when we are with others outside of our household will reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is still a very real threat across our state."

California, which has started to move into phase three of reopening, has started to see a new spike in confirmed coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, the state set a record of more than 4,100 new confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The mandate is similar to those already enacted by different jurisdictions across the state.

Runner Blake Harris says grabbing his mask as he heads outside has become muscle memory. "It's one of those things that's starting to get ingrained in habit," Harris told KPIX 5.

ER doctor Alex Buss admits it's unpleasant, but necessary for the greater good.

"It's definitely not fun, I'd prefer not to be wearing it if there was no pandemic going on," Buss said Thursday. "But I think it's definitely a thing to help protect others, so if you don't care about your own health, wearing it for others makes it worthwhile and that's what I would say to people - that it's for everyone's wellbeing, not just your own."

Californians must wear face coverings when they are in the situations listed below:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
    • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
    • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
    • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
    • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person's own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering:

  • Children aged two and under;
  • Persons with a medical, mental health, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;
  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence;
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others;
  • Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff.


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