Coronavirus California: Gov. Newsom issues statewide order to require face masks in high-risk settings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials on Thursday issued a statewide order that requires Californians to wear a face covering in high-risk settings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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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


Some Bay Area jurisdictions already have stricter mask guidelines than those issued by the state Thursday. In San Francisco and Alameda counties, for example, masks are required anytime you're outdoors and within 30 feet of others. That includes while exercising.

"If everyone does it, we're all protected," said Dr. David Witt, an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente.

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Dr. Witt explained there are two main misconceptions about wearing masks.

"People think we've passed our surge, that this is the bell-shaped curve we've flattened... and now we're done," he said. "The first wave isn't even over yet... and we're seeing that wave grow."

Dr. Witt also pointed out we won't know how widespread infections will be until roughly four weeks after exposure.

"It's a month away until we see the harm of not wearing a mask now," said Dr. Witt. "At that point you could've already done a lot of damage."

Former California Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Twitter Thursday afternoon saying, "this is 100% the right move."



In issuing the newly released guidance, the California Department of Public Health cited what it described as a growing body of scientific research that shows that asymptomatic people can still spread the disease.

"Science shows that face coverings and masks work," said Gov. Gavin Newsom. "They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy."

As for why the governor took this action now, he said: "Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered - putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. 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."

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