California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday signed an order making wearing face coverings mandatory while in public or high-risk settings, citing health concerns due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Californians will be required to wear a mask while in line or inside public spaces, at the workplace, and when waiting for or while riding public transportation, the newly-issued state guidelines say. People engaged in hiking, running or bicycling do not need to wear a mask. Children under two-years-old and individuals with medical conditions are also exempt from the order.
“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” Newsom said in a statement.”They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open, and restarting our economy.”
“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” the Democrat governor added. “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.”
NEW: Californians are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces – particularly indoors or when physical distancing is not possible. 😷
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) June 18, 2020
New York, Michigan, and Maryland currently also have statewide mask directives.
The directive comes after California registered 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus, and 160,000 cases total. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported an additional 34 deaths and 2,129 new cases of the illness. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, explained the sizeable increase in cases was attributed to a “backlog of 600 test results being reported by one lab.”
Newson’s mask order also comes as restaurants, bars, malls, hair salons, parks, beaches, hotels, and gyms have been given the green light to reopen in the state. Nightclubs and movie theaters still remain closed.
In May, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) required residents to wear face coverings when they leave home. “I say real men wear face masks when they’re going to be with other people in public,” Garcetti recently told MSNBC. “It’s our gateway to increasing freedom and more economic activity and greater opening up. I think modeling that is something so important for all of our leaders, and any men who don’t want to wear face masks got to get over ourselves and just do it.”