Combined with physical distancing and frequent handwashing, face coverings may reduce the risk of infection posed by people who are infected and without symptoms.
Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan issued an order for all members of the public to wear face coverings when around people outside of their household. The order becomes effective at 11:59 p.m. on April 17, 2020.
Enforcement will begin at 8:00 a.m. on April 22, 2020 to allow the public time to comply by making or purchasing a face covering.
“A face covering may reduce the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19 when maintaining at least 6 feet of distance isn’t possible.” said Dr. Pan. “Everyone should wear a face covering when engaged in essential activities and work, but there is no substitute for physical distancing and staying at home.”
Face coverings can be simple and homemade, made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material without holes, that covers the nose and mouth. The face covering must be worn in three main settings:
- Essential Businesses, or other businesses and facilities engaged in Minimum Basic Operations, Essential Infrastructure or Essential Government Functions
- When seeking health care (health care workers and facilities have a different set of requirements)
- Public transportation or other types of shared transportation
Employees, contractors, owners and volunteers in all these settings must wear a face covering where the public is present or likely to be, and at any time when others are nearby.
Children aged 12 and younger are not required to wear a face covering, and any child two years old or younger should not wear a face covering. The order does not apply if a person is only with members of their own household. A person engaged in walking, hiking, bicycling and running is not required to wear a face covering but that person must take steps to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others, and carry a face covering in case one is needed when encountering other people.
“Consistent and broad use of face covering may help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alameda County because people may have COVID-19 but not show symptoms or their symptoms are so mild they don’t think they have become infected,” said Dr. Pan.