LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Face masks are now required across the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday.
The order applies to all Californians in indoor spaces, healthcare settings, on public transportation and rideshare vehicles and at workplaces that are visited by the public or where food is prepared for sale or distribution. Masks will also be required outdoors where people cannot maintain a distance of six feet from each other.
“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” he said in a statement issued by the state’s Department of Public Health.
Children 2 and under, and anyone with a developmental disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering or is hearing impaired and relies on lip reading are exempt. Face coverings are also not required when people are eating or drinking or exercising outdoors, provided they can maintain a distance of at least six feet from people who are not from their households. Prison inmates are also exempt and are subject to prison and jail-specific guidelines.
The state of California has been slowly reopening its economy, drawing more people out of their homes, which has coincided with an increase in coronavirus infections. Los Angeles County recorded a record 2,100 infections Wednesday.
“Science shows that face coverings and masks works,” Newsom said in the statement. “They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”
Public health officials have identified face coverings as a convenient and reliable way to slow the transmission of COVID-19, but being required to wear masks has become especially contentious in Orange County and other less-populated areas. Face masks are required in Los Angeles County for anyone interacting with people outside their homes, but were only encouraged in Orange and Ventura counties. Mask requirements in Riverside and San Bernardino counties were eased in recent months.
Riverside County Supervisor Chair V. Manuel Perez said he was happy the governor made the decision and urged everyone to follow the new requirement.
“This pandemic has hit hard all of our communities. But in particular, people of color and vulnerable communities such as seniors, farm workers and those with compromised immune systems,” Perez said in a statement. “We see a rise in positive cases and hospital bed usage in the county but more so in the Coachella Valley. Social distancing, washing our hands and wearing facial coverings are all simple measures that we can all abide by to protect ourselves and our fellow neighbors.”
Last week, face-coverings in Orange County became a choice after lifting the mask requirement throughout the county.
Newsom’s mask order came as a surprise to Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michelle Steel.
“It was a surprise for us,” Steel said. “We have to review exactly when to wear, when not to wear, and exactly what we are going to do.”
The statewide order now overrides local city and county guidelines on face coverings.