On Thursday, Governor Newsom ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care, following growing concerns that an increase in coronavirus (COVD-19) cases has been caused by residents failing to voluntarily take such precautions.
Newsom’s order came a week after Orange County rescinded a requirement for residents to wear masks and as other counties across California were debating whether to join local jurisdictions that have mandated face coverings. The Newsom administration has not addressed how the new requirement will be enforced or if Californians who violate the order will be subject to citations or other penalties.
Until now, state public health officials have only recommended that Californians wear face coverings, which, if worn by someone with COVID-19, have been shown to decrease the chances of spreading the virus.
The State Order exempts children 2 years old and younger, and people with a medical, mental health or developmental disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. Restaurant customers are also exempt when eating and drinking, as are residents engaged in outdoor recreation as long as they are able to socially distance from others.
Face coverings also are not required for the hearing impaired, or those communicating with them, or for workers whose health may be put at risk or may need to temporarily remove a mask to perform a task or service.
Masks must be worn by Californians in their workplace, when serving customers or any member of the public; by all food service workers; when walking through parking facilities and hallways at work; and when riding on elevators, according to the order. People who drive buses, taxis, ride-hailing vehicles or any other service that accepts passengers also must wear masks.
California joins New York, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and New Mexico in implementing a mandatory face-covering requirement, according to the National Governors Association.
The latest information on COVID-19 in California can be found here.
COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:
With COVID-19 cases on the rise in California, employers should continue to take all reasonable precautions to keep their workplaces and employees safe from the spread of COVID-19. This order immediately impacts California employers. If you have questions about how this order impacts your company’s workplace policies and practices, please contact the experts at the Saqui Law Group, a Division of Dowling Aaron Incorporated.