By Jaclyn Gross and Chantelle C. Egan

Seyfarth Synopsis: As counties begin loosening local restrictions and summer approaches, and in an effort to preempt a rise in COVID-19 cases, the California Department of Public Health issued a directive mandating that residents statewide wear face coverings.

Before last week, California only recommended that residents wear face coverings as a precautionary measure with COVID-19, and the State left it in local governments’ hands to decide whether a mandatory requirement was necessary. As summer heats up and tempts residents to spend more time outside and congregate, Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health have issued a mandatory face covering directive to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout California.

Masks on Top!

Under this new directive, unless a resident is specifically exempted, face coverings must be worn statewide in the following “high-risk” circumstances:

  • 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 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

West Coast Represent: County, City, and Industry Guidance

While the statewide directive does not specifically address California employers’ obligations, employers should keep in mind that more restrictive local orders will control. Accordingly, if a county or citywide order mandates wearing face coverings under additional sets of circumstances, or orders employers to provide face coverings to employees, the business must still abide by those requirements. Likewise, FAQs also issued last week direct Californian employees to industry guidance for additional situations warranting mask wearing at work.

Workplace Solutions

We are continuing to monitor California COVID-19 developments. If you have questions, please be sure to visit Seyfarth’s COVID-19 Resource Center, or contact your favorite Seyfarth attorney directly.

Edited by Coby Turner