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Coronavirus Bay Area: 7 Questions Answered About New Rules On Face Coverings

Last week, several San Francisco Bay Area counties and cities announced new ordinances requiring residents to wear face masks in certain places in an attempt to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

So, what exactly do these new rules entail? ABC7 decided to find out the answer to seven common questions about the new ordinances.

Where in the Bay Area are they mandatory?

Five counties and three cities: Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, and Marin Sonoma.San Francisco, Pleasant Hill, and Fremont. They are NOT required in Santa Clara County at this time.

Why is it only a "strong recommendation" in Santa Clara County, one of the hardest hit by COVID19?

Dr. Sara Cody says her team is mindful that law enforcement resources are stretched.

"It's not something I can ask my colleagues in law enforcement to enforce, however it is a critical and urgent recommendation," said Dr. Cody.

Who should be wearing masks?

Anyone over the age of 12, children who are younger are not required to wear them.

When should we be wearing masks?

Masks should be worn, anytime you are around people, outside of your home but especially when you are interacting with an essential service like taking transit or going to the grocery store.

"When you are standing in line or in any location that provides an essential service, " explained Mayor London Breed.

When can we take them off?

"If you're traveling in your car or if you're traveling with an immediate household member, you don't need to cover your face," explained Dr. Cody.

"When you are out walking, running walking a dog, that is not a requirement for a face covering," said Mayor Breed.

Dr. Cody recommends you carry it with you while exercising or going for a run or doing any physical activities.

What do people need to know about taking off their mask and putting it on?

"When you put them on just make sure it covers your mouth and when you take them off, just make sure you don't touch the mouth and take it off from the sides," said Jeremy Howard, a research scientist at UCSF who is promoting the use of masks on social media via #masks4all. He also suggests washing them daily or using them once, if they are disposable.

Why do we need to wear masks in public?

Howard says the more people wear masks the safer our places can be and the closer we can get to the lockdown.

"We need to keep the population safe and slow down the transmission rate in the Bay Area," said Howard, adding that masks will help bring down the number of people that someone with COVID19 can infect.

Additional questions:

Can businesses turn away people who are not wearing masks?

In counties or cities where they are mandatory, you can report someone not wearing a mask.However, Mayor London Breed asked residents not to police others or shame them for not wearing masks.

What's the fine for not wearing a mask?

It depends on the county but in areas where wearing a mask is mandatory, you can be fined between $50 to $1,000 and/or face jail time.

How are those in the vulnerable population getting masks?

There are a number of outreach groups working to give masks to the homeless, and others who might need them.Over the weekend, several groups handed out supply in San Francisco.

Does it have to be a mask?

No, in fact, medical masks are discouraged. It can be any kind of face covering, including homemade cloth and paper towel masks, bandanas, scarf.


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