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Californians Are Now Required to Wear Masks -- But It's Not Enforced

Californians Are Now Required to Wear Masks -- But It's Not Enforced

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order declaring the use of face masks when people are in public settings, including outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible. This order is a response to the spike in coronavirus hospitalizations and cases as the state's economy opens up more. 

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

In most California counties, people can now dine inside restaurants, go to salons, gather in churches, and shop inside malls and stores. The order requires people to wear masks when they are inside or in line for any public indoor spaces, in healthcare settings like pharmacies or hospitals, while waiting for or riding public transportation and outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible, as aforementioned. 

Face masks are required while working when:

  • interacting with the public in-person
  • working in any space visited by the public, even when no one is present
  • working in any space where food is prepared/ packaged for sale or distribution
  • working in or walking through common areas, ie. hallways, stairwells, elevators, and parking facilities
  • in any room or indoor space where social distancing is not possible
  • operating/ driving any public transportation, taxi, or private car service when passengers are present.

But local governments and police departments in California have said in recent days that they will not enforce the governor's mandate that people in the state wear face masks in most public places, despite emphasis from the governor about the importance of following the order.

Certain politicians and law enforcement officials throughout the state are saying that they will not use the force of law to ensure people wear the masks, with varying degrees of outright resistance to the governor. Over ten municipal governments and police departments coming out against enforcement of the mask guidelines represent a significant split between state and local authorities on how hard a line to take on the health measures.

Officials such as Mayor Senum of Nevada City have made strong statements against the face mask ordinance by Gov. Newsom. She said in a recent Facebook post, "As you go about your day today, KNOW there is NO LAW that Orders you to Wear a Mask. Our Governor does NOT have that unilateral power to make such orders." Several county sheriffs and other law enforcement officials have agreed that it is peoples' responsibility to wear face masks. It is not law enforcement's responsibility to enforce anyone to wear a mask.

 Exemptions to the face mask rule are:

  • Children under two years of age.
  • People with medical or mental health conditions, or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face covering.
  • People who are hard of hearing, or communicating with someone who is hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Those 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.
  • People who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the mask is necessary to perform the service.
  • People who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, and provided that they can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others who are not members of the same household or residence.
  • Anyone engaged in outdoor work or recreation — such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running — when alone or with other members of their household, or when they can maintain social distancing.
  • People who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails will have specific guidance on face masks for both inmates and staff.

This information provided on this website is meant to provide general information and does not constitute as legal/ medical advice.

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