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Face coverings ordered in San Francisco starting next Wednesday

San Francisco has joined several Bay Area counties in requiring the public to wear face coverings when leaving their homes to essential businesses, public facilities, riding transit or if a person is an essential worker.

The new public health order issued by The City’s Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón will go into effect on Friday at 11:59 p.m. The order is another effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 as the coverings can help prevent the spread of droplets that could be infectious.

City officials said face coverings can be a bandanna, a scarf, a towel or a neck gaiter and can be made at home. The covering should be cleaned frequently with soap and water.

Two Points Couture/Flickr Cloth, non-medical face coverings are seen in this photo dated Thursday, April 16, 2020.

Mayor London Breed said The City will begin enforcement of the new public health order on Wednesday, April 22 at 8 a.m. to give residents enough time to find or create face coverings:

“We are working to distribute some to many of our vulnerable populations but we want to ask members of the public to do this now if you can.”

The mayor also said that the public should not be wearing medical grade masks, such as N95 masks, as the masks should be reserved for healthcare workers. Breed also reminded the public that wearing a face covering does not take the place of social distancing.

Scot Tucker/SFBay A bus remains stopped on 19th Ave. at Holloway Ave as the only vehicle on 19th Avenue in front of SF State in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Muni trains have ceased operations due to Covid-19. (Scot Tucker/

Breed does not want the public to police anyone not wearing a mask that can add to confrontations:

“Please do your part to follow the order and worry about what you need to do and not what someone else is doing and we will do our very best in order to manage the situation.”

Businesses will need to enforce the face covering order by informing customers that they need to wear a face covering when entering an essential business, including posting signs, and businesses will need to take steps in not allowing customers inside without a face covering.

An essential business can refuse service to a customer not wearing a face covering.

Face coverings are not required at home, in a vehicle with household members, during outdoor exercising and for children under the age of 12. City officials recommend anyone outside exercising to have face covering ready just in case and for adults to supervise children who are wearing a face mask to avoid the risk of suffocation.

As of Friday, The City reports of 1,058 Covid-19 cases and 20 deaths related to the virus, according to the Department of Public Health.

SFBay Bay Area coronavirus dashboard. (Jesse Garnier/SFBay)
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