On Thursday, June 18th, California Gov. declared that wearing face masks in public has been made obligatory for the citizens of the state. This initiative is meant to hinder the spread of COVID-19 in California, with a record number of new cases being reported every day. As per the Department of Public Health, the state has exceeded 157,000 cases, and over 5200 people have lost their lives.
The CDC, as well as the WHO, have strongly advised wearing a face mask while in public. In many California counties, like Los Angles and Bay Area, wearing a mask was obligatory. California is home to over 40 million people, and it became the most populous state to make face masks mandatory. As reported by the National Governors Association, it is the first West Coast state and 11th overall to enforce face covering for residents other than essential workers.
While announcing the new order, Newsom 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.”
He continued by adding that by following the recommended health and safety practices, observing social distancing, and face covering, we can help stop the spread of this disease. Here is everything you need to know about the mandatory face-covering order in California.
When Did the Face Mask Order Take Effect?
The order went into effect immediately after it was issued, starting June 18th.
Who Has to Wear A Face Mask? The Department of Public Health has issued an extensive list of individuals who have to wear a face mask. The list includes the following:
· Ones who are present inside any indoor public spaces or waiting in lines to enter.
· Ones who require any kind of health care services. This can include visiting a hospital, a dentist, a pharmacy, a laboratory, a veterinary clinic, or a blood bank.
· Those who are waiting for or traveling in public transportation. Anyone using ridesharing or cab services like Uber.
· Those who have to engage with other individuals, who work in spaces where food is prepared or packaged, work in or walk through areas like elevators or hallways or in closed spaces where other people are around you, and physical distancing is not possible.
· Those who are operating or driving private or public transportation, especially in the presence of passengers. The state recommends covering one’sface with a mask, even when there are no passengers in the vehicle.
· Those who are outdoors, especially in places and situations where maintaining six feet physical distance is not feasible.
Recommended Mask Types
According to the state guidelines, people should wear a face mask that adequately covers the mouth and nose area. The ideal options for public use are the non-medical grade KN95 masks from NewRain, or Daily Wear Disposable Protective Mask. In case you are not able to find one, you can try to use household items like t-shirts, scarfs, bandanas, and towels to make a DIY face mask. Although not as effective as the commercial options, it will still offer some level of protection.
Who Is Exempt from The Mask Order?
There are a few exceptions provided by the state. This includes:
· Children aged two years and younger are exempt from the mask order, as it poses a suffocation hazard.
· Ones who have any medical condition or mental health problem, or disability that makes it difficult for them to wear a face mask. Ones with any lung condition, where
a mask would obstruct their breathing, and ones who are incapacitated or unconscious or otherwise require help to remove a covering from their face.
· Those who are deaf or have hearing loss or the ones who have to communicate with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss, particularly in situations where lip reading is necessary.
· Ones in work conditions where wearing a face mask could create a risk for them.
· Ones receiving services that require uncovering face or nose temporarily.
· Ones seated at a diner or restaurant, while eating or drinking, provided that they are maintaining adequate physical distance from other people around them.
· Ones engaged in outdoor recreational activities like jogging, riding a bike, or walking.
· Ones who are incarcerated, as the state is preparing specific guidelines for staff and inmates wearing face masks in jails and prisons.
How Long Will the Order Be in Effect?
As of now, the state is yet to issue an end date for the face-covering order.
Is Violation of This Order Punishable?
Gov. Newsom has trusted the public to comply with his order in the past. However, there are different methods he could employ to enforce this order if needed. In counties, such as Marin County, not wearing a face mask in public has been made a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment or a fine.