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Christy Dawn
Photograph: Courtesy Christy Dawn

All Californians are now required to wear face coverings in public

The state released new guidelines on Thursday.

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As more of us venture back outside of our homes, we need to keep in mind a whole bunch of new public health and safety procedures. Top among them? Wearing a non-medical face covering—though that previously depended on what county you were in. 

But on Thursday, the state released guidance for face coverings that requires all Californians to wear them in “high-risk situations,” which amounts to most scenarios outside of your own home.

“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” said Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.” As for the timing of the announcement, Newsom said “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered—putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.”

In a document attributed to state public health officer Sonia Angell and Gov. Newsom, Californians must now wear face coverings in any indoor public space; within healthcare settings; while waiting for, riding on or driving public transit or ride-sharing services; at the workplace; and even outdoors in public spaces. Children two and under, those who are hearing impaired and people with certain disabilities or medical conditions are among those exempt from wearing face coverings. In addition, the state says you don’t need to wear one while eating and drinking in a restaurant or while partaking in outdoor recreation as long as you’re alone or with members of your own household and able to stay more than six feet away from others.

For Angelenos, this should all sound pretty familiar and nothing really changes. L.A. began recommending masks in public as far back as early April, and the guidance became mandatory in mid-May.

But this sure changes things in Orange County, where the current public health officer had recently changed wearing a mask as a “recommended” step after the previous officer had made them required (and resigned after receiving public pushback and threats, as a result).

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