San Francisco will require residents to wear face coverings

Though California's progress in flattening the COVID-19 curve is promising, state and local leaders aren't letting up on response efforts. 

San Francisco became the latest in the Bay Area to issue a public health order requiring residents to wear face coverings when out for essential needs including at grocery stores, public facilities and on transit.

The requirement takes effect at midnight, Mayor London Breed said Friday afternoon. But it won't be enforced until 8 a.m. on April 22 to allow residents time to obtain a face mask. 

Essential workers are also required to wear face coverings while doing their jobs. 

Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as Fremont, have issued similar orders

The new public health directive is not a substitute for social distancing or the stay-at-home order, city leaders stressed. 

“My mask protects you, and your mask protects me,” said the city's Public Health Director Dr. Colfax. “Covering your face is a great way to show you care for your neighbors, friends, and family." 

The order further builds on the city's commitment to reducing infection with residents less likely to transmit the virus to others. 

Face coverings help to stop droplets that may be infectious, even if the person wearing the mask has no or mild symptoms.

Permitted face coverings include homemade masks, bandanas, scarves or towels. 

Breed asked residents to refrain from purchasing medical-grade or N75 masks as they are needed for health care workers and first responders. 

Residents don't have to wear them outdoors while walking, hiking or bicycling outdoors. However, people are recommended to have a face covering with them and readily accessible when exercising, even if they’re not wearing it at that moment.

Children 12 years old or younger are not required to wear one. Children ages 2 and under should not wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation. 

Mayor Breed said the order is not to cause confusion among residents. 

 "If you're not a police officer, don't act like one," she said. Adding it's important residents don't overstep their boundaries in trying to make sure people comply with the public health directive.