California Requires Face Masks as Coronavirus Cases Increase
As California enters Stage 2 of its “Resilience Roadmap” plan to reopen, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health issued further guidance on June 18, 2020, mandating all Californians wear face coverings in various “high-risk” settings. The guidance updates a previous CDPH guidance (issued on April 1, 2020) that outlined best practices regarding the use of face coverings, but did not mandate their use state-wide. In light of the threat posed by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the CDPH has been given broad authority to issue public health directives by Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20, requiring Californians to “heed the State public health directives.”
The CDPH Order requires people in California wear cloth face coverings in “high-risk situations,” which include: indoor public spaces, outdoor public spaces (when maintaining social distancing is not feasible), obtaining healthcare, using public transportation (including taxis and ride—share services), and engaging in work with members of the public. The Order exempts children under two years of age, persons who cannot wear a face covering due to a health issue, deaf persons (or those communicating with deaf persons), persons obtaining services which require the removal of face covering, persons dining at a restaurant (so long as they are maintaining social distance from others), and persons engaged in outdoor recreation (so long as they are maintaining social distance from others). The State of California has issued a FAQ regarding the new requirement.
The Order broadly requires the use of face coverings in the workplace. Although the requirement is limited to (1) workplaces that can be visited by the public, (2) locations where food is being prepared for others, (3) working in (or passing through) common areas, and (4) enclosed areas where social distancing is impossible, the Order’s breadth will impact a majority of employers.
As California workplaces begin to implement return-to-work plans, they will need to incorporate these new state-wide face covering requirements. Likewise, employers should also review and assess any county or city requirements as many cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, have stricter requirements than California’s new Order.