California clarifies COVID mask mandate: 'Wear one anytime you're near others'

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - MAY 17: Some people wear masks while others don't as people visit one of Los Angeles County's recently reopened beaches during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

As part of its stepped-up response to a surge in COVID-19 cases, California is tightening its requirements for face coverings, issuing revised rules that mandate everyone wear a mask at all times outside the home when within six feet of people from other households.  

The revised guidance issued Monday states that residents "must wear face coverings when they are outside the home," unless they are more than six feet away from other people.  

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People who are outdoors but not close to anyone else do not have to wear a mask, but they must have one with them to put on in case they come within six feet of other people.

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The rules apply to anyone aged 2 or older, but exempt people with specific medical conditions and those who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.  

Other exemptions to the rule include:  

-- people in a car alone or with members of their own household;  

-- people working alone in an office or room; 

-- people who are "actively eating or drinking"; and  

-- workers who must wear respiratory protection.   The state has long called on residents to wear face coverings in public, particularly while in close contact with others.

The new rules broaden previous guidance that provided recommendations on when people should wear masks.  

The state rule essentially mirrors the guidance in Los Angeles County, which says residents "should use a clean face-covering anytime they will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces."

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