Pamela Tahim Thakur
California Makes Masks Mandatory for All
Before June 18, 2020, California only recommended that residents wear face coverings as a precautionary measure with COVID-19 and left it up to local governments to decide whether to make masks a mandatory requirement. But, as California residents and summer visitors head outdoors, Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health have issued a mandatory face-covering directive to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout California.
Although the directive does not specifically address what obligations California employers must fulfill when it comes to face coverings for their workers, employers must bear in mind that more restrictive local orders will control. For example, if a county or citywide order mandates employers to provide face coverings to employees, the business must do so at its own expense, even though state directive does not specifically require it. Also, under the California Labor Code section 2802, employers must reimburse their employees for all necessary business expenses (most likely including the cost of buying the now-mandatory facemasks) if the employers do not supply them.
Under the new directive, unless a resident is specifically exempted, face coverings must be worn statewide in all of the following circumstances:
• Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
• Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to: a hospital, pharmacy,
medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;
• Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or
• Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
> Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
> Working in any space visited by members of 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
> In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or
residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
• Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-
sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly
• While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from persons who are not
members of the same household or residence is not feasible.
The attorneys at Thakur Law Firm, APC will continue to monitor COVID-19-related developments in the law, affecting California employers. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Thakur Law Firm to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you address any workplace issues and develop practical short-term and long-term solutions.