COVID-19 Face Coverings
On April 17, enforceable as of 8 a.m. April 22, 2020, the San Mateo County Health Officer in conjunction with other Bay Area counties issued an order requiring individuals to wear a face covering when they need to leave their home to work or obtain essential goods and services. Read the face covering order here. (Revised May 19)
Violations of the health order are punishable as a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code section 120195. Violations can carry a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment up to 90 days, or both.
PLEASE NOTE: A face covering is not a substitute for guidance about social distancing and handwashing.
On June 16, 2020, the State approved San Mateo County's attestation, which allows San Mateo County to move with the State as it allows additional activities and businesses. Please refer to the State of California Face Covering FAQs at https://covid19.ca.gov/masks-and-ppe/. Please also see the FAQ below which addresses some differences in San Mateo County.
You may download the cloth face covering graphic at the top of this page here.
How does the State Face Covering Order differ from the County Order?
The State and County have both issued face covering Orders. They are basically the same as of July 6, 2020. But each contain subtle differences/clarifications as follows:
- The County Order clarifies that only children 12 and older (in addition to adults) must wear face coverings. Children 2 and over are encouraged to wear face coverings as their parents/guardians deem appropriate. Children 2 and under should not wear face coverings due to risk of suffocation.
- The State Face Covering Order explicitly exempts persons who are (1) hearing impaired, or people communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; (2) obtaining service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service; and (3) persons who are incarcerated. The County Order should be interpreted as consistent.
- The County Order requires each person engaged in recreational activity to bring a Face Covering and wear that Face Covering in circumstances where it is difficult to maintain compliance with Social Distancing Requirements (i.e. staying six feet away), 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. Additionally, because running or bicycling causes people to more forcefully expel airborne particles, making the usual minimum six 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.
- The County Order recommends that if you live with a vulnerable person and frequently engage in out-of-home activities, you wear a face covering inside your home. Vulnerable people include: people sixty years old and older; people with serious heart conditions, hypertension, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease being treated by dialysis, and moderate-to-severe asthma; and those who are immunosuppressed.