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Face Coverings: An Overview



You are required to wear a face covering:

  • Whenever you are at, or in line to enter, any business

  • Whenever you are waiting for or riding on public transit.

  • Most times when you are in your workplace, including when passing through common areas like hallways, stairways, and elevators.

  • Whenever you are outdoors in public spaces and cannot maintain a 6-foot social distance from people outside your household.

Generally, you should be prepared to wear a face covering any time you are outside your own home.


Businesses must post signs stating that a face covering is required when you are at their facilities. They must also require their employees to wear face coverings while working.

Because consistent use of face coverings is such an important way to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Health Officer’s Risk Reduction Order prohibits indoor activities (other than healthcare services) that necessarily involve removing a face covering, such as eating or drinking indoors at a restaurant or bar, swimming at an indoor pool, smoking at a cigar lounge, or visiting a sauna, steam room, or heated exercise studio.


Who Is Exempt from Wearing a Face Covering

The following people do not have to wear face coverings:

  • Children under age 2.

  • People with a medical condition that would make wearing a face covering dangerous.*

  • People who cannot put on or take off a face covering without assistance.

  • People who are hearing impaired who need to remove their face covering to effectively communicate (or people who are communicating with someone else who is hearing impaired).

  • Workers who must remove their face covering to comply with local, state, or federal rules relating to job safety.

  • People who must take off their face covering to address a basic biological need, like eating or drinking. Indoor dining, however, is prohibited precisely because it inherently requires removal of face coverings.

  • People who are actively engaged in outdoor exercise and maintaining at least 6 feet of social distancing from others not in their household.

  • As specified in the County’s industry-specific and activity-specific directives.

* You do not need a doctor’s note to enter a business without a face covering if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing one. But because businesses are required to stop people from entering their facilities without a face covering on, you should be prepared to tell the business that you are exempt when they stop you.


The Role of Face Coverings

Wearing a face covering helps slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community and reduce the number of people infected.


We know that people may be infected with COVID-19 but have no symptoms. Wearing a face covering can help to reduce the chance that those who may not know they are sick will spread the infection to others. If everyone wears face coverings in public, we can reduce the spread of infection.


Covering your face is not a substitute for minimizing your physical interactions with people from other households. Staying home is still the best way to slow the spread of the virus in our community and save lives.


Please also remember that wearing a face covering must be combined with maintaining social distancing, frequently washing your hands, and avoiding all contact with others when you are sick. Wearing a face covering does not mean that people can come in closer contact with each other; while face coverings can help reduce the spread of the virus, they do not completely stop it.


When a Face Covering is Not Required

You are not required to wear a face covering when you are:

  • At home (although you must wear one in common areas of your apartment or condo complex, like the laundry room, elevator, lobby, and mailbox area).

  • In your car alone or solely with members of your own

  • Exercising outdoors, like walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, if you are able to maintain six feet of distance from anyone outside your household. However, you must take a face covering with you to put back on when you are done exercising.

Face Covering Information for Businesses and Transportation

  • All businesses in the County are required to ensure that their employees wear a face covering when they are at work, even if there are no customers or members of the public present at the time. This is to avoid the spreading of respiratory droplets in areas where others may be exposed at some point.

  • Businesses must inform customers about the requirement to wear a face covering at their facilities, including posting the County's required Social Distancing Protocol Visitor Information and COVID-19 Prepared signs (both available to print here: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/social-distancing-protocol.aspx ) after a business completes and submits its Social Distancing Protocol to the County) at every entrance to the store or facility.

  • All workers operating public transportation or other types of shared transportation are required to wear a face covering when at work in most settings.

Workers at businesses should wear face coverings even when speaking or presenting to others—in fact, speaking is one of the key times when people spread respiratory droplets. People speaking or presenting can remove their face covering if they are alone in a room speaking to others via telephone or videoconference, or if needed for disability accommodation to allow others to understand the presentation. Otherwise, face coverings should stay on even though it may feel inconvenient to speak through one.


Workers may remove their face covering if they are in an office, room, or enclosed area where other people are not present.


Making Your Own Face Covering

There are several options for face coverings, as long as they cover the nose and mouth. Face coverings can be made of a variety of cloth materials, such as bandanas, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.


A face covering can be made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, but it should not have holes around the nose or mouth.


The CDC has provided simple instructions on how to make your own face covering:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html


Cleaning Your Face Covering

Face coverings should be washed frequently. Ideally, wash them after each use and have a dedicated laundry bag or bin. Always wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after touching your face or face coverings.


The CDC also has easy instruction on how to wear and clean your face covering:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html


Save Masks for Health Care Workers

N-95 and surgical masks are in short supply and need to be conserved for health workers on the frontlines. We are managing our supply levels closely and ensuring that health workers and first responders have medical-grade personal protective equipment that is aligned with the latest evidence-based science, and appropriate for their work duties.


If you are currently using a medical mask, keep using it as long as possible – until it becomes dirty or damaged due to the limited supply.

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NOTICE

BVNA makes a best effort to provide accurate information about current events, rules, regulations, and municipal code; this site is not intended to provide legal advice and any questions about such areas should be directed to the appropriate City department.

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San Jose, CA 95159-6953

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