Gov. Gavin Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom during a press conference on April 14.

All Californians must wear masks when they are in high-risk situations according to new orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, June 18. 

The new order mandates that face coverings be worn state-wide by the general public outside the home, particularly indoors when physical distancing is not possible. 

The new guidelines released today stated that the use of “face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing or sneezing, as well as reinforce social distancing.”

“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a released statement. “They are critical to keeping those around you safe, keeping businesses open, and restarting our economy.” 

Newsom stated that he took action now because the restrictions were necessary to prevent the recovery progress from being put at risk. “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered-putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing,” Newson stated. 

The decision comes as California saw a rise of 3,455 positive cases reported from June 15 to June 16. An increase of a total of 87 deaths was also reported over one day. California has reported a total of 157,015 positive cases and 5,208 fatalities as of June 16.

State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Health Dr. Sonia Angell stated that wearing face coverings is another important measure the public can do to protect one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As Californians venture into our communities more, wearing face coverings is another important way we can help protect one another,” said Dr. Angell. “Combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, wearing cloth face coverings when we are with others outside of our household will reduce the spread of COVID-19, which is still a very real threat across our state.”

Must wear face coverings

According to guidelines released by the state, “Californians must wear face coverings when they are in high-risk situations” such as: 

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space

  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;2

  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;

  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:

    • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;

    • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;

    • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;

    • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators and parking facilities;

    • In any room or an enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.

  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended. 

  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

Exemption from wearing face-covering

The guidelines offer exemptions for individuals:

  • Persons age two years or under. These very young children must not wear a face-covering because of the risk of suffocation.

  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face-covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face-covering without assistance.

  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

  • Persons 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.

  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service.

  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.

  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.

  • Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings or masks for both inmates and staff.

PI reporter

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