UPDATED FAQs - Face Masks
Wearing a mask is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will help prevent both you and others from getting COVID-19. This is more important than ever with new, more easily transmitted variants of COVID-19 on the rise.
Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings in California and provides Tips and Resources on Masks for Kids.
No, there is no fine for using an N-95.
When they fit well, N95 respirators are highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Counterfeit N95s can be avoided by making sure they are NIOSH approved and have the required labeling (PDF) printed directly on the respirator.
Choose a size and model that fits your face and has no gaps. Test it by doing a seal check (PDF) to make sure it fits. N95 respirators are currently available online and in hardware and safety supply stores and are no longer being reserved for healthcare settings. As the availability of respirators increases, individuals may choose to wear them instead of other options, particularly in settings, such as those described above, where greater protection is needed.
If you wear an N95 respirator, you should not wear an additional face covering over or under the respirator, as it can interfere with the seal to the face.
No, masks that have a one-way valve designed for easier breathing (the valves are often a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter, on the front or side of the mask) One-way valves allow droplets out of the mask, putting others nearby at risk.
The order does not require people who are exercising or taking a walk outside alone to wear face coverings, but instead, focuses on when people are in public places where they cannot always remain six feet apart from others.
The order does not require people who are riding in the car with other members of their household to wear a face-covering. The order intends to prevent the spread of illness in public spaces where it is difficult to always remain six feet apart from others.
Masks are required for all individuals in the following indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status:
On public transit (examples: airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares) and in transportation hubs (examples: airport, bus terminal, marina, train station, seaport or other port, subway station, or any other area that provides transportation)
Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare
Emergency shelters and cooling centers
Masks are required for all individuals, in the following indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status (and surgical masks are recommended):
State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
Long Term Care Settings & Adult and Senior Care Facilities
Additionally, masks are required* for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses (examples: retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, state and local government offices serving the public).
See State Health Officer Order, issued on July 26, 2021, for a full list of high-risk congregate and other healthcare settings where surgical masks are required for unvaccinated workers, and recommendations for respirator use for unvaccinated workers in healthcare and long-term care facilities in situations or settings not covered by Cal OSHA ETS or ATD.
Yes. Wearing face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. View CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself.
An effective mask has both good fit and good filtration. A well fitted mask has no gaps between the face and mask, such as above the nose or at the sides. Good fit forces the air that you breathe out and breathe in to go through the mask and be filtered. Good filtration blocks the virus particles from going through the mask itself. You can get good filtration with the right materials and by using more layers.
Good fit and filtration improve protection for others if you are infected and protection for you if you are exposed to an infected person.
Double masking is an effective way to improve fit and filtration. A close-fitting cloth mask can be worn on top of a surgical/disposable mask to improve the seal of the mask to the face. Layering more than two masks is not recommended as this could be difficult to breathe through. Also, it is not recommended to wear two medical masks, or to wear a medical mask on top of a KN95, KF94, or N95. Double masking may be appropriate where improved fit and filtration are especially important, and some situations where this may be considered are listed below.
Regardless of the mask type, it is only effective if it is worn over your mouth and nose.
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- Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.