Everyone in California is now required to wear a mask or face covering any time they are in public or in a high-risk setting. Governor Newsom instituted the new order on Thursday, upgrading the statewide policy from a “recommendation” to a mandate, and superseding a patchwork of different local and county-level mask rules.
“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered—putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” Newsom said in a statement. “California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing.”
Exceptions to the requirement include children under two years old, individuals with health or developmental issues that make mask-wearing problematic, and customers in restaurants who are actively eating or drinking. Masks can also be removed while exercising outdoors, but only when fully distant from any other people.
This new statewide requirement comes just days after Orange County rolled back its county-level mandate, the Los Angeles Times reports. Public health officials there had been subjected to harassment and death threats for supporting the wearing of masks, and several anti-mask, pro-reopening protests have been staged in the county, with some devolving into vandalism and property damage.
Newsom’s mask order comes on the same day as troubling new statistics about COVID-19 infection rates emerged. Both the state of California and the County of Los Angeles logged new single-day highs for new infection confirmations. The state confirmed 4,291 new cases on June 17, with 2,129 of them in L.A. County.