North Nash

California Department of Public Health Issues New Guidance on Face Coverings Affecting All Californians

California Department of Public Health Issues New Guidance on Face Coverings Affecting All Californians

Posted: June 24, 2020 | News

The California  Department of Public Health (CDPH), under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, has issued revised statewide guidance, effective June 18, 2020, requiring face coverings in most public places. The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19. The guidance supersedes previous CDPH guidance that merely recommended, but did not mandate, face coverings.

When Must Face Coverings Be Worn in California?

The updated guidance now mandates that individuals wear face coverings when:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space (unless exempted by state guidelines for specific public settings)
  • 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
  • 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 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; or
    • In any room or 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. Face coverings are strongly recommended even when no passengers are present.
  • While outdoors in public spaces and maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

The guidance is silent as to whether businesses are required to enforce the face covering guidance as to customers, vendors, visitors, or patrons.


The mandate exempts the following persons:

  • Persons age two years or under
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering
  • 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 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

Employees in jobs involving regular contact with others, if exempted from the order due to a medical condition, should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, to the extent that their condition permits it.

Meaning for California Employers?

Employers, if not already doing so, must immediately require employees to wear a face covering while engaged in any of the activities specifically identified by the order, including when employees: (i) interact with colleagues, (ii) walk or work in common areas, or (iii) work in any room or enclosed area with other employees.

Employers are required to make face coverings available to employees who do not have one. Employers must also instruct employees on how to care for a face covering. Employers that require employees to bring their own masks should reimburse the expense.

Guidance on Face Coverings

Additional guidance on face coverings is available from the CDC on its website, the California Department of Public Health, the County of Orange, and the County of Los Angeles.

North, Nash & Abendroth LLP attorneys remain available to advise California employers how to comply with this guidance/order and any other follow-up orders issued in response to COVID-19.

Author: North, Nash & Abendroth’s Attorney and Partner, Douglas W. Abendroth