New state order requires face masks in public


SACRAMENTO – On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health released updated guidance requiring residents to wear face coverings when outside of their homes.

“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered–putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” Governor Gavin Newsom said.

This all comes as Kern County is in Phase 3 of reopening.

“There has to be a balance,” said Kern Chief Administrative Officer, Ryan Alsop. “We can’t just shut everything down for the next year. We have to find a way to begin to re-open businesses, start business activity, but do so with  adaptations and with Public Health guidance.”

About a month ago, Kern averaged 30 new COVID-19 cases a day. About a week ago, it doubled to 60. Now, it’s nearly tripled to more than 80.

These spikes are enough to put Kern on the state’s watch list.

“We‘ve continued to say that we have concerns about our hospital capacity, particularly with our ICU bed capacity,” Alsop said.

Under the new order, you must wear a mask in all of these situations:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space.
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector, including hospitals, pharmacies, labs, physician or dental offices, veterinary clinics, or blood banks.
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting with a member of the public or working in a space visited by the public.
  • While outdoors in public spaces, when it’s not possible to keep six feet of distance from people not in your household

The following people are exempt from wearing a face covering:

  • Children under age two
  • People with medical, mental health, or developmental disabilities that prevent wearing face coverings
  • People who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • People who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
  • People who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from people who are not members of the same household
  • People who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others
  • People who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff.

“Businesses are going to be okay. This is about individual people not making very good personal decisions, not wearing a face mask,” Alsop added.

However, the state doesn’t say how this new order will be enforced, if there will be any fines or penalties for those who refuse to wear masks.

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