New Face Covering Guidelines Go Into Effect on June 15, 2021

By Jacquelyn E. Quinn, Esq.

On June 9, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) issued updated Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for the general public.

Until June 15, the following face covering guidance remains in effect:

  • For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
  • For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.
  • In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, unless an individual is exempt from wearing a face covering.

In the workplace, employers subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), must ensure that all workers are provided and properly wear face coverings as required by the ETS.

On June 15, the following face covering guidance will go into effect:

Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals, except in the following settings where masks are required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status:

  • On public transit (examples: airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares) and in transportation hubs (examples: airport, bus terminal, marina, train station, seaport or other port, subway station, or any other area that provides transportation).
  • Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare and other youth settings.
  • Note: This may change as updated K-12 schools guidance is forthcoming, pending updates for K-12 operational guidance from the CDC.
  • Healthcare settings (including long term care facilities).
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers.
  • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.

Additionally, masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses (examples: retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public).
In settings where masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, businesses, venue operators or hosts may choose to:

  • Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow vaccinated individuals to self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.
  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
  • Require all patrons to wear masks.

Please note, no person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business. In workplaces, employers are subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) or in some workplaces the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard, and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements.
Exemptions to masks requirements:
The following specific settings are exempt from face covering requirements:

  • Persons in a car alone or solely with members of their own household,
  • Persons who are working alone in a closed office or room,
  • Persons who are obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service,
  • Workers who wear respiratory protection, or
  • Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings by other CDPH guidance.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:

  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • 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 mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.