February 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 37

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February 03, 2023

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California Counties Mandate Face Coverings & Stricter Requirements for Businesses

As communities continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and additional guidance is issued by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), more state, county and municipal orders are being issued to combat the spread of the virus and protect the safety of residents and workers.  Many of these new or amended orders include a greater emphasis on social distancing and sanitation requirements for employers as well as the use of face coverings at businesses that remain operational.  Below are highlights from recent orders with links issued by the following Southern California Counties: Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego:

Riverside County

Effective midnight on April 5, 2020 (as amended on April 6, 2020), and continuing through April 30, 2020 (pending further Order of the Public Health Officer), the County of Riverside amended its Order of the Health Officer to mandate additional protections for Riverside County residents.  Specifically, “[a]ll persons, including Essential Workers[,] shall wear face coverings, such as scarves (dense fabric, without holes), bandanas, neck gaiter[s], or other fabric face coverings” when they leave their homes.  This provision of the Order applies to all individuals in Riverside County, including essential workers, and is punishable by $1,000 civil penalties per day as well as imprisonment, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  In addition, the Order specifically discourages Riverside County residents, including essential workers, from wearing Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”), such as N-95 masks, for non-medical reasons.

The Order further mandates that essential businesses must:

  1. Follow the Social Distancing and Infection Control Guidelines published by the CDC and California Department of Public Health;

  2. Identify and require measures necessary to implement social distancing and sanitation at each facility and implement them (or shut down); and

  3. Make every effort to use telecommuting for its workforce.

Moreover, for restaurants and other business establishments that serve food, the business must require social distancing for persons picking up food on site.

A complete copy of the order can be found here.

San Bernardino County

On April 7, 2020, the Public Health Officer for San Bernardino County issued an order to take effect on April 8, 2020 that included the following provisions that apply to businesses:

  1. The previous “Stay-at-Home Order” requiring all residents to remain at home except as needed to maintain the continuity of the operations for critical infrastructure remains in effect until rescinded;

  2. Those businesses that remain in operation are required to follow the Social Distancing and Infection Control Guidelines issued by the CDC and California Department of Public Health;

  3. All essential businesses must identify and require measures necessary to implement social distancing and sanitation at the facility.  If the measures identified and implemented are not effective, additional measures shall be identified and implemented or the facility shall be closed;

  4. All individuals, including essential workers, are required to wear face coverings such as scarves (dense fabric without holes), bandanas, neck gaiters, or other fabric face coverings when they leave their homes;

  5. Staff at facilities listed in the County’s April 6, 2020 Order that are medical essential facilities are required to wear surgical masks while in the facility; and

  6. Businesses are to make every effort to use telecommuting for their workforce.

This Order remains in effect until rescinded, and violations of the order are punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or imprisonment up to 90 days, or both.  A complete copy of the order can be found here.

San Diego County

Effective midnight on Friday, April 3, 2020, the County of San Diego amended its Order of the Health Officer and Emergency Regulations to mandate additional protections for essential workers in the County and the public with whom they interact.  Specifically:

  1. Each business must prepare and post a “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol” at or near the entrance of each facility, easily viewable by the public and employees.  The notice must also be provided to all employees working at that facility.  If the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol is not effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation, the business must either amend its protocol, or risk being shut down by the County.

  2. All employees who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant, or other business establishment that serves food, must wear a cloth face covering in line with the State of California’s April 1st guidance:

a. It can be any material that covers the nose and mouth, secured to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the lower face.

b. Face coverings should be ideally washed after each use, or at least daily, in hot water and detergent.

c. If face coverings cannot be washed after each use, employees should wash their hands before and after putting it back on, and avoid touching their face.

A complete copy of the order can be found here.  A template protocol can be found here.

Copyright © 2023, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 101

About this Author

Matthew A. Tobias, Sheppard Mullin, Los Angeles Labor Lawyer, Employment

Mr. Tobias is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles office.

Mr. Tobias specializes in labor and employment matters on behalf of employers, including wage and hour violations, employment discrimination, wrongful termination in violation of public policy and sexual harassment.

Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, Mr. Tobias worked for the City of Los Angeles in the Personnel Department.  During this time, Mr. Tobias represented the City in Unfair Employee Relations Practice ...

Ashley Hirano, Lawyer, Sheppard Mullin, Labor and Employment Practice Group

Ms. Hirano is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's San Diego office.

Areas of Practice

Ms. Hirano counsels employers and human resources professionals in all aspects of employment law compliance and best practices, including the drafting, review and implementation of policies and procedures; wage and hour audits; executive compensation; and mass layoffs and reorganizations.  Ms. Hirano also handles employment-related litigation, including wage and hour class...

Michaela Goldstein, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Century City, Labor and Employment Law Attorney

Michaela R. Goldstein is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's Century City office.


  • J.D., Loyola Law School, 2017, summa cum laude

  • B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2014