The State of California now requires the use of face coverings in high-risk settings, according to new State guidance that was released today and is tied to the State’s Executive Order directing all residents to continue to obey State public health directives.

Today’s guidance mandates the use of cloth face coverings by the general public statewide when outside the home, with limited exceptions, including children under the age of two, people who have medical or mental health conditions that prevent wearing face coverings, and people who are eating or drinking at a restaurant or establishment that offers food or beverages, and others.

“Wearing face coverings can slow the spread of COVID-19 and can potentially stop waves of outbreaks, which helps us continue to fully reopen our economy,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “This requirement offers an additional layer of protection for all of us, especially workers in our favorite places.”

A growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few symptoms of COVID-19 can still spread the disease and that the use of face coverings combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing will reduce the spread of COVID-19. The use of face coverings by everyone can limit the release of infected droplets when talking, coughing, and/or sneezing, as well as reinforce physical distancing.

As with previous State Orders, County officials emphasize voluntary compliance. Use of education and reminders on how best to comply with the order will be the first approach with additional enforcement measures taken as warranted.

“Each of us should do our part in protecting the people around us by complying with this requirement,” Dr. Borenstein said.

Visit to review the full State guidance on face coverings, including a detailed list of requirements and exemptions, and to get updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, or call the phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.