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A picture of a mom putting on her son's face mask.

How, Why, Where and When to Wear Face Masks

California beaches, parks, and businesses are slowly reopening after March’s initial COVID-19 shelter-in-place order. But the fact remains that we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

As such, Governor Newsom and the State Department of Health issued a mandate that face coverings are required while out in public. Here is everything you need to know about wearing your mask to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

How to wear your mask

How you wear your cloth face covering might seem pretty straightforward – just put it on, right? Not quite. When it comes to wearing and handling our masks, we need to be mindful of the following:

  • Clean your hands before touching the mask
  • Inspect the mask for damage and to see if it’s dirty
  • Adjust the mask on your face so that there are no gaps on either side
  • Make sure it covers your nose, mouth, and chin
  • Avoid touching the mask while you’re wearing it
  • Before removing the mask, clean your hands again
  • Use the straps behind your ears or head to remove the mask, and pull it away from your face
  • Store it in a clean, plastic, reusable bag – putting it in bags or on surfaces will only transfer germs
  • Remove the mask from the plastic bag by its straps
  • Hand-wash fabric masks once a day in hot water using mild soap or detergent, and place in a clothes dryer, if possible. If not, let air dry in a clean area

Why you should wear a mask

While it’s true that non-medical cloth masks won’t completely stop you from breathing in respiratory droplets that carry a virus like COVID-19, they can significantly cut down on the risk of transmission because:

  • A cloth mask can help you cover a cough or sneeze, which reduces the spread of germs
  • Some people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or none at all, and may be spreading the virus unknowingly. Cloth masks could help cut down how far the virus spreads
  • Cloth masks can prevent you from touching your face and can be a visual reminder to practice social distancing
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Where and when to wear your mask

The new mandate requires Californians to wear a mask when they are:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public place
  • Riding, or waiting for, public transportation
  • Riding in a taxi or ride-share vehicle such as Uber or Lyft
  • At work and interacting with any member of the public
  • At work and working in any space visited by members of the public
  • At work and working in any space where food is prepared or distributed to others
  • Walking in common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities
  • Receiving healthcare services – i.e., while at hospitals, doctor and dentist offices, pharmacies, veterinary clinics, or blood banks
  • Outdoors – when maintaining physical distancing from individuals who are not members of your household is not possible

There are, however, a few exemptions to this rule, including:

  • Children two years old or under
  • Individuals with medical conditions, mental health condition, or disability for whom wearing a face covering would obstruct breathing
  • Individuals who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • When seated at a restaurant and can maintain a distance of at least six-feet away from people who are not members of your household
  • While walking, hiking, biking, or running and can maintain a distance of six-feet from others

For more tips on staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, read our article Coronavirus: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe. For more information on healthy San Diego living, please visit

CATEGORIES: Healthy LifestylesParenting


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