The California Department of Public Health issued new public health guidelines Thursday, requiring Californians to wear face coverings when in public spaces that have a high risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.
People will be required to wear masks when inside an indoor public space, receiving health care services, waiting for or riding on public transit or in a taxi or ride-booking service vehicle, and working at a facility where other people are present.
Masks and face coverings will also be required for people working anywhere food is prepared or packaged, people driving public transit vehicles and people who are outside in a public space when maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance is not possible.
"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered - putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "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."
The state carved out exemptions for several groups of people, including children ages 2 and under, people who are hearing impaired, people at a restaurant or other location offering food and beverage service and people recreating outdoors.
Various counties, including those in the Bay Area, have already implemented a requirement to wear a face covering in public in recent months due to the pandemic. However, statewide guidance had only suggested the use of a mask rather than mandating it.
"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," California State Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Sonia Angell said.
The full public health guidance can be found at online here.