By Michael G. Stogner
ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER No. c19-8
ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER
OF THE COUNTY OF SAN MATEO
GENERALLY REQUIRING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND WORKERS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS
(PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY ORDER)
DATE OF ORDER: April 17, 2020
Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code § 120295, et seq.; Cal. Penal Code §§ 69, 148(a)(1))
UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 101040, 101085, 120175, AND 120220, THE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF SAN MATEO (“HEALTH OFFICER”) ORDERS:
- This Order will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 17, 2020 and will continue to be in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer. But this Order will not be enforced until 8:00 a.m. on April 22, 2020. Any capitalized terms in this Order that are defined in Health Officer Order No. c19-5b are automatically updated to incorporate revisions to that order without a need to update this Order.
- As used in this Order, a “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering. Examples of Face Coverings include a scarf or bandana; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A Face Covering may be factory-made or may be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials. The Face Covering should be comfortable, so that the wearer can breathe comfortably through the nose and does not have to adjust it frequently, so as to avoid touching the face. For as long as medical grade masks such as N95 masks and surgical masks are in short supply, members of the public should not purchase those masks as Face Coverings under this Order; those medical grade masks should be reserved for health care providers and first responders. In general, even when not required by this Order, people are strongly encouraged to wear Face Coverings when in public. Also, for Face Coverings that are not disposed of after each use, people should clean them frequently and have extra ones available so that they have a clean one available for use.Note that any mask that incorporates a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) that is
designed to facilitate easy exhaling is not a Face Covering under this Order and is not to be used to comply with this Order’s requirements. Valves of that type permit droplet release from the mask, putting others nearby at risk.
A video showing how to make a face covering and additional information about how to wear and clean Face Coverings may be found at the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, athttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
- All members of the public, except as specifically exempted below, must wear a Face Covering outside their home or other place they reside in the following situations:
- When they are inside of, or in line to enter, any Essential Business (as that term is defined in Section 13.f of the Health Officer’s Order No. c19-5b, dated March 31, 2020 (“Order No. c19- 5b”)), including, but not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, and restaurants;
- When they are inside or at any location or facility engaging in Minimum Basic Operations or seeking or receiving Essential Government Functions (as defined in Sections 13.g and 13.d, respectively, of Order No. c19-5b);
- When they are engaged in Essential Infrastructure work (as defined in Section 13.c of Order No. c19-5b);
- When they are obtaining services at Healthcare Operations (as defined by in Section 13.b of Order No. c19-5b)—including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, other healthcare facilities, mental health providers, or facilities providing veterinary care and similar healthcare services for animals—unless directed otherwise by an employee or worker at the Healthcare Operation; or
- When they are waiting for or riding on public transportation (including without limitation any bus, BART or CalTrain) or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
- Each driver or operator of any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle must wear a Face Covering while driving or operating such vehicle, regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle, due to the need to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets in the vehicle at all times.
- All Essential Businesses, as well as entities and organizations with workers engaged in Essential Infrastructure work, Minimum Basic Operations, or Essential Government Functions (except for Healthcare Operations, which are subject to their own regulation regarding specified face coverings), must:
a. Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace and when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner, or volunteer is:
i. interacting in person with any member of the public;
- working in any space visited by members of the public, such as by way of example and without limitation, reception areas, grocery store or pharmacy aisles, service counters, public restrooms, cashier and checkout areas, waiting rooms, service areas, and other spaces used to interact with 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; or
- in any room or enclosed area when other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present.
For clarity, a Face Covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (a single room) when others outside of that person’s household are not present as long as the public does not regularly visit the room. By way of example and without limitation, a construction worker, plumber, bank manager, accountant, or bike repair person is not required to wear a Face Covering if that individual is alone and in a space not regularly visited by the public, but that individual must put on a Face Covering when coworkers are nearby, when being visited by a client/customer, and anywhere members of the public or other coworkers are regularly present.
b. Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public of the requirement that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the business, facility, or location. Essential Businesses and entities or organizations that engaged in Essential Infrastructure work or Minimum Basic Operations must take all reasonable steps to prohibit any member of the public who is not wearing a Face Covering from entering and must not serve that person if those efforts are unsuccessful and seek to remove that person.
A sample sign to be used for notifying customers can be found at the Public Health website, at
- Any child aged two years or less must not wear a Face Covering because of the risk of suffocation. This Order does not require that any child aged twelve years or less wear a Face Covering. Parents and caregivers must supervise use of Face Coverings by children to avoid misuse.
- Wearing a Face Covering is recommended but not required while engaged in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running. But each person engaged in such activity must comply with social distancing requirements including maintaining at least six feet of separation from all other people to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, it is recommended that each person engaged in such activity bring a Face Covering and wear that Face Covering in circumstances where it is difficult to maintain compliance with Social Distancing Requirements (as defined inSection 13.k of Order No. c19-5b), and that they carry the Face Covering in a readily accessible location, such as around the person’s neck or in a pocket, for such use. Because running or bicycling causes people to more forcefully expel airborne particles, making the usual minimum 6 feet distance less adequate, runners and cyclists must take steps to avoid exposing others to those particles, which include the following measures: wearing a Face Covering when possible; crossing the street when running to avoid sidewalks with pedestrians; slowing down and moving to the side when unable to leave the sidewalk and nearing other people; never spitting; and avoiding running or cycling directly in front of or behind another runner or cyclist who is not in the same household.
- This Order does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle.
- A Face Covering is also not required by this Order to be worn by a particular individual if the person can show either: (1) a medical professional has advised that wearing a Face Covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the mask for health-related reasons; or (2) wearing a Face Covering would create a risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines. A Face Covering should also not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the Face Covering without assistance.
- The intent of this Order is to ensure that all people who are visiting or working at Essential Businesses and all people who are seeking care at healthcare facilities or engaged in certain types of public transit or transportation with others wear a Face Covering to reduce the likelihood that they may transmit or receive the COVID-19 virus. The intent of this Order is also to ensure that people who work for or seek services from entities engaged in Essential Infrastructure work, Minimum Basic Operations, or Essential Government Functions also wear a Face Covering when they are in close proximity to others. In so doing, this Order will help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and mitigate the impact of the virus on members of the public and on the delivery of critical healthcare services to those in need. All provisions of this Order must be interpreted to effectuate this intent.
- This Order is issued based on evidence of increasing occurrence of COVID-19 within the County, the Bay Area, and the United States of America, scientific evidence and best practices regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the general public, which is now a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, there is a public health emergency throughout the County. With the virus that causes COVID-19, people can be infected and contagious and not have any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic. People can also be infected and contagious 48 hours before developing symptoms, the time when they are pre- symptomatic. Many people with the COVID-19 virus have mild symptoms and do not recognize they are infected and contagious, and they can unintentionally infect others. Therefore, the CDC, CDPH, and SMCPH now believe that wearing a face covering, when combined with physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent hand washing, may reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus when in public and engaged in essential activities. And because it is not always possible to maintain at least 6 feet of distance, members of the public and workers are required to wear face coverings while engaged in most essential activities and other activities when others are nearby. For clarity, although wearing a face covering is one tool for reducing the spread of the virus, doing so is not a substitute for sheltering in place, physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and frequent hand washing.
- This Order is also issued in light of the existence, as of April 17, 2020, of 797 confirmed cases of infection by the COVID-19 virus in the County, including a significant and increasing number of suspected cases of community transmission. This Order is necessary to slow the rate of spread, and the Health Officer will continue to assess the quickly evolving situation and may modify this Order, or issue additional Orders, related to COVID-19, as changing circumstances dictate.
- This Order is also issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 31, 2020 Shelter in Place Order No. c19-5b issued by the Health Officer, the March 4, 2020 Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor Gavin Newsom, the March 12, 2020 Executive Order (Executive Order N-25-20) issued by Governor Newsom, the March 3, 2020 Proclamation by the Director of Emergency Services Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency in the County, the March 3, 2020 Declaration of Local Health Emergency Regarding Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) issued by the Health Officer, the March 10, 2020 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Mateo Ratifying and Extending the Declaration of a Local Health Emergency, and guidance issued by the CDPH and CDC, as each of them have been and may be supplemented.
- Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat and immediate menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
- The County must promptly provide copies of this Order as follows: (1) by posting on the County’s website (smcgov.org) and the Department of Public Health website (smchealth.org); (2) by posting at the San Mateo County Hall of Justice, located at 400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063; and (3) by providing to any member of the public requesting a copy.
- If any provision of this Order or its application to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, then the remainder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other people or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.
IT IS SO ORDERED:
Scott Morrow, MD, MPH,
Health Officer of the County of San Mateo
April 17, 2020