The California Public Health Department issued Guidance recommending that all Californians wear cloth face coverings when in public for essential activities. San Diego County took that guidance one step further, however, and issued an addendum to its public health order, requiring that certain employees wear cloth face coverings. The San Diego order also requires covered businesses to follow new posting guidelines, and recommends that all San Diegans heed California’s Statewide Face Coverings Guidance.
California Department of Public Health Face Coverings Guidance
The State of California recently issued guidance encouraging the use of cloth face coverings, whenever an individual must be in public for essential activities. The State Guidance can be found here. For now, the state-wide guidance does not mandate the use of face coverings, but instead recommends them in conjunction with isolation and physical distancing, to slow the spread of COVID-19. The State Guidance describes cloth face coverings as cloth items, including factory-made, sewn by hand, or repurposed household items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and towels. The Guidance recommends frequently washing cloth face coverings and discarding damaged, stretched, or ill-fitting cloth face coverings.
In issuing the Guidance, the California Department of Public Health encouraged counties that choose to introduce policies promoting the use of face coverings to refrain from implementing policies that will increase demand on medical grade respirators, such as N95 and surgical masks.
San Diego County’s Face Coverings Order
While the state Guidance provides only recommendations, the San Diego Order goes further. Effective April 3, 2020, San Diego County amended its public health order to mandate face coverings for certain workers. Beginning on Saturday, April 4, 2020, employees in San Diego County who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant, or other facility that serves food, must now wear cloth face coverings as described in the California Department of Public Health Face Coverings Guidance.
Also, effective 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, essential businesses (described in California’s shelter in place Executive Order) operating physical locations that allow members of the public to enter the facility must prepare and post an easily viewable “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol” at or near the entrance of all public-facing facilities in the County. The Protocol can be found here.
Additionally, covered businesses must provide the Protocol to each employee working at public-facing facilities. Covered businesses also must be prepared to provide authorities with evidence that the protocol has been implemented and that the measures implemented are effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation.
Employers in San Diego County with questions should seek guidance from counsel to determine whether they are subject to these new requirements.