This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.
Because of our collective actions, California has limited the spread of COVID-19 and associated hospitalizations and deaths in our state. Still, the risk for COVID-19 remains and the increasing number of Californians who are leaving their homes for work and other needs, increases the risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection.
Over the last four months, we have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission, most notably that people who are infected but are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic play an important part in community spread. 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.
This document updates existing CDPH guidance for the use of cloth face coverings by the general public when outside the home. It mandates that face coverings be worn state-wide in the circumstances and with the exceptions outlined below. It does not substitute for existing guidance about social distancing and handwashing.
Note: Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.
A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
There is scientific evidence to suggest that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Their primary role is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions.
You should wear face coverings when in public places, particularly when those locations are indoors or in other areas where physical distancing is not possible.
It’s a good idea to wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to keep cloth face coverings in until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:
 Unless exempted by state guidelines for specific public settings Unless directed otherwise by an employee or healthcare provider