If You Have Questions About California's Face Mask Rules, This List Has Them Covered

Until now, the decision to mandate face masks had been left up to local governments in California. Here are the requirements and exemptions.

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What to Know

  • California on Thursday began requiring people to wear face masks in most indoor spaces and some outdoor areas where distancing isn't possible.
  • Several states, including New York, already mandated face masks in public.
  • Until now, the decision in California was left up to local governments.

California on Thursday began requiring people to wear masks in most indoor spaces and some outdoor areas as the nation's most populous state tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus at the same time it takes another step in a gradual reopening process. 

Until now, Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed local governments to decide whether masks and face coverings should be mandated. Basically, the statewide order requires masks in most indoor public spaces and some outdoor areas when distancing isn't possible.

But there are some exemptions.

Here are details of the statewide guidance.

Where and When are masks required?

  • Inside or in line to enter indoor public spaces.
  • In hospitals, pharmacies, medical clinics or other healthcare offices.
  • While waiting for and riding public transportation, taxis or ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Drivers should also wear masks.
  • In work places that require interacting with the public, where food is prepared, packaged or delivered, or when sharing common spaces such as elevators and hallways.
  • In office settings where people cannot physically distance.
  • While outside if it's not possible to stay six feet away from others.
Nurse Alice Benjamin provides tips for proper face mask wearing and answers some frequently asked questions, including how to make sure your mask fits and how often to clean it.

Who is exempt?

  • Children age 2 and younger.
  • People with medical, mental health or developmental issues that prevent it.
  • People who are deaf or have hearing loss and those who communicate with them if seeing someone's mouth is essential.
  • Workers who would violate workplace safety rules by wearing one.
  • People eating and drinking at restaurants.
  • People swimming, walking, hiking, biking, running or doing other outdoor activity where they can stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) from others.
  • People in jails and prisons, which have their own guidance on face coverings.

The order was announced as California takes another significant step in the gradual multi-phased reopening process. In most counties, people can shop, dine in at restaurants previously allowed to offer only takeout and delivery, visit hair and nail salons and other activities that had been limited.

In a statement, Newsom said science shows that face coverings work to keep people safe. Newsom said the order was issued because too many people are venturing out without mask at a critical time in the reopening process.

Other states, including Michigan, New York, Maine and Delaware, already have statewide mask mandates.

As of Wednesday, more than 3,400 people were hospitalized in California due to the coronavirus.That's the highest number of patients hospitalized since April.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties require people to wear masks whenever they are outside homes.

No details about enforcement were released in the statement.

More businesses open in California as part of stage three, including tattoo shops and nail salons. Jonathan Gonzalez reports June 19, 2020.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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