Coronavirus California: Gov. Newsom issues statewide order to wear face masks in high-risk settings

"Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered," Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Thursday.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials issued a statewide order Thursday that requires Californians to wear a mask in high-risk settings amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In issuing the newly released guidance, the California Department of Public Health cited what it described as a growing body of scientific research that shows that asymptomatic people can still spread the disease.

Californians must wear masks or face coverings when they are in the situations listed below:


  • 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;

  • 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 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.


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

    As for why the governor took this action now, he said: "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."

    In a Skype interview with Eyewitness News Thursday, Newsom reiterated his concern that as the state continues to reopen, more people are interacting with strangers and not wearing proper face coverings.

    "We have many municipalities that require mandatory mask wearing, and people are simply not applying it," the governor said.

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    Newsom added that he believes the state is not even out of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic - even as many are already fearful of a second wave.

    "Our numbers are going up, not going down. Hospitalization numbers are just starting to creep back up, and I'm very concerned by what we're seeing. We think the most impactful thing we can do, short of going back to a stay-at-home order, is wearing face coverings when we can't practice physical distancing," Newsom said.

    The governor did not address how this new order will be enforced.

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    The following individuals are exempt from wearing a mask or face covering:


  • Children aged two and under;


  • Persons with a medical, mental health, or developmental 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 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 of masks for both inmates and staff.


  • More information about the state's COVID-19 guidance can be found on the California Department of Public Health's Guidance website.

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    DEVELOPING: More details will be added to this report as they become available.
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