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C19-15: Appendix B – Face Coverings Requirements

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The County’s Health Orders and Guidance are updated as needed based on changing State requirements and current local needs as determined by the County Health Officer. In order to see the most current orders that may supersede any previous order, please view local orders and guidance, and state orders.

The public can see what’s open and what’s closed in Sonoma County to find more details on what businesses are currently open in Sonoma County. The California Blueprint for a Safer Economy provides information on the state’s criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.

Appendix B – Face Coverings Requirements

For purposes of this Section, a “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering. Examples of Face Coverings include a scarf or bandanna; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A Face Covering may be factory-made, or may be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials. The Face Covering should be comfortable, so that the wearer can breathe comfortably through the nose and does not have to adjust it frequently, so as to avoid touching the face. For as long as medical grade masks such as N95 masks and surgical masks are in short supply, members of the public should not purchase those masks as Face Coverings under this Order; those medical grade masks should be reserved for health care providers and first responders. In general, even when not required by this Order, people are strongly encouraged to wear Face Coverings when in public. Also, for Face Coverings that are not disposed of after each use, people should clean them frequently and have extra ones available so that they have a clean one available for use.

The following types of coverings do not comply with this Order:

  • Halloween or plastic masks;
  • Ski masks with holes for the nose or mouth;
  • Masks that have a one-way valve designed for easier breathing (the valves are often a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter, on the front or side of the mask); Holes or one-way valves allow droplets out of the mask, putting others nearby at risk.
  1. All members of the public, except as specifically exempted below, must wear a Face Covering outside their home or other place they reside in the following situations:
    1. When they are inside of or in line to enter any Allowed Business, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, and restaurants;
    2. When they are inside or at any location or facility engaging in Minimum Basic Operations or seeking or receiving Essential Government Functions;
    3. When they are engaged in Essential Infrastructure work;
    4. When they are obtaining services at Healthcare Operations—including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, other healthcare facilities, mental health providers, or facilities providing veterinary care and similar healthcare services for animals—unless directed otherwise by an employee or worker at the Healthcare Operation; or
    5. When they are waiting for or riding on public transportation (including without limitation any bus, SMART, or ferry) or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
    6. When they are walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities.
    7. When they are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person who is not a member of the individual’s own household or living unit at all times, whether indoors or outdoors.
  2. Each driver or operator of any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle must wear a Face Covering while driving or operating such vehicle, regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle, due to the need to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets in the vehicle at all times.
  3. All Allowed Businesses, as well as entities and organizations with workers engaged in Essential Infrastructure work, Minimum Basic Operations, or Essential Government Functions (except for Healthcare Operations, which are subject to their own regulation regarding specified face coverings), must:
    1. Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace and when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner, or volunteer is:
      1. interacting in person with any member of the public;
      2. working in any space visited by members of the public, such as by way of example and without limitation reception areas, grocery store or pharmacy aisles, service counters, public restrooms, cashier and checkout areas, waiting rooms, service areas, and other spaces used to interact with the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
      3. working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
      4. working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
      5. in any room or enclosed area when other people (except for members of the person’s own household or living unit) are present, or
      6. unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person who is not a member of the individual’s own household or living unit at all times.
    2. For clarity, a Face Covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (except for open cubical) when others outside of that person’s household are not present as long as the public does not regularly visit the room. By way of example and without limitation, a construction worker, plumber, bank manager, accountant, or bike repair person is not required to wear a Face Covering if that individual is alone and in a space not regularly visited by the public, but that individual must put on a Face Covering when coworkers are nearby, when being visited by a client/customer, while in common areas, and anywhere members of the public or other coworkers are regularly present
    3. Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public of the requirement that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the business, facility, or location. Allowed Businesses and entities or organizations that engaged in Essential Infrastructure work or Minimum Basic Operations must take all reasonable steps to prohibit any member of the public who is not wearing a Face Covering from entering and must not serve that person if those efforts are unsuccessful and seek to remove that person.
  4. Any child aged two years or less must not wear a Face Covering because of the risk of suffocation. The Order does not require that any child aged twelve years or less wear a Face Covering. Parents and caregivers must supervise use of Face Coverings by children to avoid misuse.
  5. When outdoors, all persons must carry a facial covering with them and keep it readily available, such as in a pocket or around the person’s neck. This requirement applies to all outdoor activities including but not limited to while engaged in walking, hiking, bicycling, or running. Each person engaged in such activity must comply with Social Distancing and Hygiene Requirements including maintaining at least six feet of separation from all other people to the greatest extent possible. A facial covering must be worn whenever the required social distancing of six feet or more cannot be maintained, such as when passing on a trail or sidewalk. Because intense physical activity may cause people to more forcefully expel airborne particles, making the usual minimum 6 feet distance less adequate, individuals should consider taking additional precautions to avoid exposing others to those particles, which could include, but is not be required: wearing a Face Covering when possible, social distancing to the extent reasonably possible, and avoiding running or cycling directly in front of or behind another runner or cyclist who is not in the same household.
  6. This Order does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle, unless the windows in the vehicle are lowered to interact with first responders, food service workers, or other persons who are not members of their households.
  7. A Face Covering may be briefly removed when directed to do so by law enforcement or employee when there is a need to identify the individual.
  8. A Face Covering is also not required by this Order to be worn by a particular individual if: (1) a Face Covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the mask for health or safety-related reasons; or (2) 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. A Face Covering should also not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the Face Covering without assistance.