All San Diego County residents will be required to wear face coverings while in public starting May 1, health officials announced Friday.
County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said a mandate would be added to the public health order that would require anyone to wear a face covering whenever you are within six-feet of a non-household member.
Currently, San Diego County requires employees of some essential businesses (retail stores, gas stations, restaurants, pharmacies) to wear coverings, and strongly encourages citizens to wear them in public. Businesses are allowed to deny entry to anyone not wearing a face covering.
The county has said that medical-grade masks should not be used but homemade masks, bandanas, scarves and neck gaiters are acceptable since the items can be washed and reused.
Detailed criteria for the new order or what consequences those who were not in compliance would face were not detailed Friday. But the county has stated anyone not in compliance with the public health order could face up to $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail.
The move to require face coverings may actually be seen as a step towards reopening San Diego County, according to Fletcher.
"We believe this is going to be a part of life in the new normal," Fletcher said. Until such time as we have a vaccine or a widely available therapeutic drug, there are going to be parts of life that are going to change. And getting in the habit of having a face covering when you leave your house, that's going to be part of that change."
The South Bay cities of National City and Chula Vista have already implemented face-covering requirements for their citizens. Fletcher said it was time for the entire county to be united in their efforts to prevent the spread.
County health officials and local leaders are working towards a phased approach to easing restrictions but the reopening plan is dependant on meeting five key metrics based on the Trump Administration's "Opening Up America Again" plan and the state's "Roadmap to Opening California" plan.
County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said on Friday good progress has been made and three of five metrics have been met.
San Diego County had 2,826 positive cases reported and 102 residents who have died from COVID-19 since mid-February, when tracking began, according to numbers released Friday.
The current public health order, which restricts gatherings bigger than just a family unit and limits which restaurants and businesses can operate, is set to expire on April 30 but can be extended or modified if necessary.
County officials are working with local jurisdictions to have plans in place that could allow parks, beaches and potentially businesses to reopen in the near future, the Board of Supervisors said this week. But, as Fletcher reiterated Friday, it is dependent on the public's cooperation in heeding the regulations currently in place.
San Diego's Public Health Order
The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has taken measures to protect the community against the spread of the novel coronavirus by issuing a Public Health Order. The order was modified several times in March and April 2020 to restrict gatherings, shutter the dining rooms of restaurants, and close down public areas. Some of the rules included in the San Diego County public health order are:
- Gatherings of any size are prohibited
- Bars and adult entertainment establishments that serve alcohol and don't serve food are ordered to close.
- On-site dining at restaurants is not allowed, but pick-up, delivery, and drive-thru services are allowed.
- Employees of essential businesses who come in regular contact with the public (retail stores, pharmacies, gas stations, etc.) are required to wear facial coverings.
- Businesses have the right to refuse service to patrons who do not use facial coverings, though facial coverings are not mandatory but suggested for non-essential workers.
- Open businesses must post sanitation/social distance protocols publicly by April 7.
- Parking lots for public parks and recreational areas, including beaches, must close. It is up to each jurisdiction if they will close off parks or recreational areas.
- Public or private schools and colleges are not allowed to hold classes or activities.
- Anyone coming into San Diego County on flights connected to or originating from countries under the Level 3 Travel Advisory shall be subject to 14 days of home-quarantine.
- The maximum penalty for violating the Public Health Order is a $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail.
- Click here for complete details of the latest Public Health Order.