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Face Masks Are Now Required Almost Everywhere Outside the Home in California
Jun 18, 2020

Face Masks Are Now Required Almost Everywhere Outside the Home in California

Topics: COVID-19

Governor Newsom has signed a new Executive Order today broadly requiring people to wear a face covering when outside the home.  Here are the rules most applicable to employers:

Face masks are required while working when:

  • Interacting in-person with the public;
  • Working in any space visited by the public, regardless of whether anyone is present;
  • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution;
  • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairwells, elevators, and parking facilities;
  • In any room or enclosed area where other people are present when unable to physically distance (i.e. six feet or separation or impervious barriers between employees required); and
  • Driving or operating any public transportation, taxi, or private car service when passengers are present.

Masks are required while outdoors when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household is not feasible, and inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space.

For all of our struggling restaurant clients and friends: as noted below, you do not need to close back down, and masks are not required for customers while dining in a restaurant if six feet of separation is maintained from other groups (or proper impervious barriers have been installed).  Customers must wear masks upon entering, and staff must wear masks at all times while working (but not gloves unless they are clearing the table or involved in cleaning/disinfecting).

The following individuals are exempt from wearing a 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; and 
  • 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.

The Governor’s Order essentially negates any existing county or local orders that said masks were not required, or that otherwise conflict with the state Order.

Employers – if you were not already doing so, you now need to provide masks or reimburse the cost if employees will have to provide them to wear them at work (which almost everyone will to some extent – at least while entering and walking through common areas and using the bathroom).  It is also a good idea to distribute the Guidance from the California Department of Public Health on how to properly wear face coverings, which can be found here.

Hopefully, this new Order will not impose too much of a burden on employers who likely just re-opened, as many have already taken steps to make sure employees are six feet apart (or erected barriers), which allows them to work without masks at their workstation (but they will have to wear them in the bathroom, breakroom or walking in common areas). 

You can find more information for the California Department of Public Health here.

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For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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