Face Covering Requirements
It is important to first understand the extent of the new law before discussing employer obligations. Everyone in California must now wear face coverings when they are in a variety of situations deemed by the state to be higher risk, including the following:
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;
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);
Engaging 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; and
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.
California expressly exempts certain activities, provided six-foot social distance is maintained. These include eating or drinking while seated at a restaurant or other establishment offering food or beverage services, and engaging in outdoor work or recreation (like swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running) when alone or with household members.
In addition, numerous individuals are also exempted from wearing a face covering in public, including:
Children up to two years old;
Individuals with medical, mental health, or developmental disabilities that prevent 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;
Workers for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work (as determined by regulations or workplace safety guidelines); and
Persons who are incarcerated.