ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER
OF THE COUNTY OF MARIN
GENERALLY REQUIRING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND WORKERS TO WEAR FACE COVERINGS
DATE OF ORDER: April 17, 2020
Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (California Health and Safety Code § 120295, et seq.; Cal. Penal Code §§ 69, 148(a)(1), et seq.)
Summary: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), and Marin County Public Health (“MCPH”) have recommended that members of the public, when they need to interact with others outside the home and especially in settings where many people are present such as waiting in lines and shopping, should cover the mouth and nose to prevent inadvertently spreading the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”). One key transmission method for the COVID-19 virus is respiratory droplets that people expel when they breathe or sneeze. With the virus that causes COVID-19, people can be infected and not have any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic, but they can still be contagious. People can also be infected and contagious 48 hours before developing symptoms, the time when they are pre-symptomatic. Many people with the COVID-19 virus have mild symptoms and do not recognize they are infected and contagious, and they can unintentionally infect others. Therefore, the CDC, CDPH, and MCPH now believe that wearing a face covering, when combined with physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent hand washing, may reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus when in public and engaged in essential activities by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets. And because it is not always possible to maintain at least 6 feet of distance, members of the public and workers should wear face coverings while engaged in most essential activities and other activities when others are nearby. For clarity, although wearing a face covering is one tool for reducing the spread of the virus, doing so is not a substitute for sheltering in place, physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and frequent hand washing.
This Order requires that people wear Face Coverings, which may be simple do-it-yourself coverings as further described below, in three main settings.
- First, members of the public must wear Face Coverings while inside of or waiting in line to enter Essential Businesses and other businesses or facilities engaged in Minimum Basic Operations, providing Essential Infrastructure, and providing Essential Government Functions (except Healthcare Operations, which are subject to different requirements), when seeking healthcare from Healthcare Operations, and when waiting for or riding on public transportation and other types of shared transportation. Each of the capitalized terms other than “Face Coverings” in the preceding sentence are defined in County of Marin Health Officer Order Directing All Individuals Living in the County to Continue Sheltering at Their Place of Residence dated March 31, 2020.
- Second, this Order also requires employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers of all Essential Businesses or those operating public transportation and other types of shared transportation to wear a Face Covering when at work.
- And third, this Order also requires workers engaged in Minimum Basic Operations, Essential Infrastructure work, and Essential Government Functions to wear a Face Covering in areas where the public is present or likely to be and at any time when others are nearby.
This Order includes certain exceptions. For instance, this Order does not require that any child aged twelve years or younger wear a Face Covering and recommends that any child aged two years or younger should not wear one because of the risk of suffocation. This Order also does not apply to people who are in their own cars alone or with members of their own household. It also does not require people wear Face Coverings while engaged in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, though it does recommend that they have a Face Covering with them and still requires them to practice social distancing and other measures to protect against transmission of the virus.
UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTIONS 101040, 101085, 120175, AND 120220, THE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE COUNTY OF MARIN (“HEALTH OFFICER”) ORDERS:
- This Order will take effect at 8:00 a.m. on April 22, 2020, and will continue to be in effect until it is extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended in writing by the Health Officer.
- As used in this Order, a “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering. Examples of Face Coverings include a scarf or bandanna; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands or otherwise; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A Face Covering may be factory-made, or may be handmade and improvised from ordinary household materials. The Face Covering should be comfortable, so that the wearer can breathe comfortably through the nose and does not have to adjust it frequently, so as to avoid touching the face. For as long as medical grade masks such as N95 masks and surgical masks are in short supply, members of the public should not purchase those masks as Face Coverings under this Order; those medical grade masks should be reserved for health care providers and first responders. In general, even when not required by this Order, people are strongly encouraged to wear Face Coverings when in public. Also, for Face Coverings that are not disposed of after each use, people should clean them frequently and have extra ones available so that they have a clean one available for use.
Note that any mask or similar mask that incorporates a one-way valve (typically a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask) that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling is not a Face Covering under this Order and is not to be used to comply with this Order’s requirements. Valves of that type permit droplet release from the mask, putting others nearby at risk.
A video showing how to make a face covering and additional information about how to wear and clean Face Coverings may be found at the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
- All members of the public, except as specifically exempted below, must wear a Face Covering outside their home or other place they reside in the following situations:
- When they are inside of or in line to enter any Essential Business, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, and restaurants;
- When they are inside or at any location or facility engaging in Minimum Basic Operations or seeking or receiving Essential Government Functions;
- When they are engaged in Essential Infrastructure work;
- When they are obtaining services at Healthcare Operations—including hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists, pharmacies, blood banks and blood drives, other healthcare facilities, mental health providers, or facilities providing veterinary care and similar healthcare services for animals—unless directed otherwise by an employee or worker at the Healthcare Operation; or
- When they are waiting for or riding on public transportation (including without limitation any bus, SMART, or ferry) or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.
- Each driver or operator of any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle must wear a Face Covering while driving or operating such vehicle, regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle, due to the need to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets in the vehicle at all times.
- All Essential Businesses, as well as entities and organizations with workers engaged in Essential Infrastructure work, Minimum Basic Operations, or Essential Government Functions (except for Healthcare Operations, which are subject to their own regulation regarding specified face coverings), must:
- Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace and when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner, or volunteer is:
- interacting in person with any member of the public;
- working in any space visited by members of the public, such as by way of example and without limitation reception areas, grocery store or pharmacy aisles, service counters, public restrooms, cashier and checkout areas, waiting rooms, service areas, and other spaces used to interact with the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
- working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
- working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities; or
- in any room or enclosed area when other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present.
For clarity, a Face Covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (a single room) when others outside of that person’s household are not present as long as the public does not regularly visit the room. By way of example and without limitation, a construction worker, plumber, bank manager, accountant, or bike repair person is not required to wear a Face Covering if that individual is alone and in a space not regularly visited by the public, but that individual must put on a Face Covering when coworkers are nearby, when being visited by a client/customer, and anywhere members of the public or other coworkers are regularly present.
- Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public of the requirement that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the business, facility, or location. Essential Businesses and entities or organizations that engaged in Essential Infrastructure work or Minimum Basic Operations must take all reasonable steps to prohibit any member of the public who is not wearing a Face Covering from entering and must not serve that person if those efforts are unsuccessful and seek to remove that person.
- Any child aged two years or less must not wear a Face Covering because of the risk of suffocation. The Order does not require that any child aged twelve years of less wear a Face Covering. Parents and caregivers must supervise use of Face Coverings by children to avoid misuse.
- Wearing a Face Covering is recommended but not required while engaged in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling, or running. But each person engaged in such activity must comply with Social Distancing Requirements including maintaining at least six feet of separation from all other people to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, it is recommended that each person engaged in such activity bring a Face Covering and wear that Face Covering in circumstances where it is difficult to maintain compliance with Social Distancing Requirements, 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. Because running or bicycling causes people to more forcefully expel airborne particles, making the usual minimum 6 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.
- This Order does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle.
- A Face Covering is also not required by this Order to be worn by a particular individual if the person can show either: (1) a medical professional has advised that wearing a Face Covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the mask for health-related reasons; or (2) wearing a Face Covering would create a risk to the person related to their work as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines. A Face Covering should also not be used by anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the Face Covering without assistance.
- The intent of this Order is to ensure that all people who are visiting or working at Essential Businesses and all people who are seeking care at healthcare facilities or engaged in certain types of public transit or transportation with others wear a Face Covering to reduce the likelihood that they may transmit or receive the COVID-19 virus. The intent of this Order is also to ensure that people who work for or seek services from entities engaged in Essential Infrastructure work, Minimum Basic Operations, or Essential Government Functions also wear a Face Covering when they are in close proximity to others. In so doing, this Order will help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and mitigate the impact of the virus on members of the public and on the delivery of critical healthcare services to those in need. All provisions of this Order must be interpreted to effectuate this intent.
- This Order is issued based on evidence of increasing occurrence of COVID-19 within the County, the Bay Area, and the United States of America, scientific evidence and best practices regarding the most effective approaches to slow the transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the general public, which is now a pandemic according to the World Health Organization, there is a public health emergency throughout the County. With the virus that causes COVID-19, people can be infected and contagious and not have any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic. People can also be infected and contagious 48 hours before developing symptoms, the time when they are pre-symptomatic. Many people with the COVID-19 virus have mild symptoms and do not recognize they are infected and contagious, and they can unintentionally infect others. Therefore, the CDC, CDPH, and MCPH now believe that wearing a face covering, when combined with physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent hand washing, may reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus when in public and engaged in essential activities. And because it is not always possible to maintain at least 6 feet of distance, members of the public and workers are required to wear face coverings while engaged in most essential activities and other activities when others are nearby. For clarity, although wearing a face covering is one tool for reducing the spread of the virus, doing so is not a substitute for sheltering in place, physical distancing of at least 6 feet, and frequent hand washing.
- This Order is also issued in light of the existence, as of April 17, 2020, of 187 confirmed cases of infection by the COVID-19 virus in the County, including a significant and increasing number of suspected cases of community transmission. This Order is necessary to slow the rate of spread, and the Health Officer will continue to assess the quickly evolving situation and may modify this Order, or issue additional Orders, related to COVID-19, as changing circumstances dictate.
- This Order is also issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the March 31, 2020 Shelter in Place Order issued by the Health Officer, the March 4, 2020 Proclamation of a State of Emergency issued by Governor Gavin Newsom, the March 12, 2020 Executive Order (Executive Order N-25-20) issued by Governor Newsom, the March 3, 2020 Proclamation by the Assistant Director of Emergency Services Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency in the County, the March 3, 2020 Declaration of Local Health Emergency Regarding Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) issued by the Health Officer, the March 10, 2020 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Marin Ratifying and Extending the Declaration of a Local Health Emergency, the March 10, 2020 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Marin Ratifying and Extending the Proclamation of a Local Emergency, and guidance issued by the CDPH and CDC, as each of them have been and may be supplemented.
- Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this Order constitutes an imminent threat and immediate menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.
- Copies of this Order shall promptly be: (1) made available at the Bulletin Board adjacent to the entrance to the Chambers of the Board of Supervisors, Room 330, Administration Building, and in the display case in the center arch of the Hall of Justice, Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, California; (2) posted on the County of Marin website (www.marincounty.org) as well as the County of Marin Department of Health and Human Services website (www.marinhhs.org); and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Order.
If any provision of this Order or its application to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, then the remainder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other people or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.
IT IS SO ORDERED
Matt Willis, MD, MPH
Health Officer of the County of Marin
Dated: April 17, 2020