Wearing Masks Outside Your Home is Mandatory in California. Here's When You Can Take it Off

With all the changes, some may be wondering -- when do I have to wear a mask? Who is exempt?

After California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he was "pulling an emergency brake" following surges in coronavirus case numbers, 41 of 58 counties -- roughly 94% of the state's population -- have been moved into the most-restrictive purple tier.

That means zoos, movie theaters and places of worship are to offer outdoor services only, while shopping malls and salons are allowed to operate with indoor services, but with restrictions like 25% capacity. See the full breakdown of the tier system here.

You can view Newsom's full announcement here.

LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti also acted upon the surging numbers, expanding the mobile testing program, setting up testing at LAX and looking to open a "super walkup" testing site in the northeastern San Fernando Valley.

Surging numbers weren't a rarity in the rest of the nation as NBC News data showed Tuesday all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam have reported an increase in coronavirus cases from over the past 14 days.

With all the changes, some may be wondering -- when do I have to wear a mask? Who is exempt?

Here are the guidelines set forth by the California Department of Public Health and the state on facial coverings.

People in California must wear face coverings when they are outside of the home if within six feet of people they do not live with.

The state and California Department of Public Health advise that unless one of the exemptions below applies, you must wear a mask. Read more here.

Individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings in the following specific settings:

  • Persons in a car alone or solely with members of their own household.
  • Persons who are working in an office or in a room alone.
  • Persons who are actively 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 outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household.  Such persons must have a face covering with them at all times and must put it on if they are within 6 feet of others who are not in their household.
  • 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.
  • Workers who are required to wear respiratory protection.
  • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings at all times:

  • Persons younger than two years old. These very young children must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance. Such conditions are rare.
  • 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.

Don’t wear your mask under your nose or just on your chin. A mask is only effective if it covers both ways you breathe, the state says.

Coronavirus Deaths in Your City and State — and Across the US

These charts use daily coronavirus death data from Johns Hopkins University to show the seven-day moving average of deaths at the city, state and country level.

The impact of coronavirus varies enormously in the United States from one place to another.

Source: Johns Hopkins University.
Credit: Visuals by Amy O’Kruk/NBC, data analysis by Ron Campbell/NBC

Daily COVID-19 numbers continue to increase, so the surge is prompting changes. Robert Kovacik reported on NBC4 News on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
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