Los Angeles Is the Latest (and Largest) California Jurisdiction to Require Face Coverings


On April 7, 2020, the City of Los Angeles joined a growing number of jurisdictions in California to order essential workers (including some public entity employees) and members of the public to wear face coverings.  The Los Angeles City Order follows similar orders from other jurisdictions across the state, including the Counties of San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and the City of Carson, among others.  We anticipate that additional jurisdictions will adopt similar orders in the coming days and weeks.  Please note that the various State, County, and City Public Health Orders are constantly changing.  For the most up to date information, consult your legal counsel at AALRR.

The Los Angeles Order

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti’s face-covering order (the “Los Angeles Order”) goes into effect at 12:01 AM on this coming Friday, April 10, 2020.  It requires workers and employees at many businesses that interact regularly with the public to wear face coverings while in business facilities.  Covered businesses include grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, taxis and ride sharing services, hardware and building supply stores, construction and maintenance workers like plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and janitors, and  organizations that provide food and services to the economically disadvantaged.  For a full list of the types of businesses covered by the order, click here.

The Los Angeles Order only applies to specified subsections of businesses performing Essential Activities and exempt under section 5(vii) of the Los Angeles Safer At Home Emergency Order.  Among the businesses not covered by the new Los Angeles Order and which are not required to comply with the face-covering requirements include those involved in healthcare, food cultivation (including farming, livestock and fishing), television, radio, newspaper, and other journalism, gas stations, auto part supply and repair, banks and other financial institutions, mailing and shipping, education, utility companies, professional services such as legal and accounting services, military and defense contractors, and businesses that provide support, services, or supplies to other essential businesses, unless specifically covered otherwise.  

Construction projects which qualify for the Essential Infrastructure exemption are also excluded from the Los Angeles Order.

The Los Angeles Order does not apply to employees of government agencies “working within the course and scope of their public service employment.”  Nor does it apply to educational institutions -- including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

The face coverings may be non-medical grade.  Employers must provide the face coverings to employees at the employer’s expense. 

Employers must also permit their employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes, and must provide the facilities, including soap or sanitizing agents, for them to do so.  Employers must also implement social distancing measures for customers, visitors, and employees that provide a six-foot buffer between individuals to the extent possible.

The Los Angeles Order also requires that customers of the covered businesses wear face coverings while in the business facilities.  The Order states that a “business owner or operator may refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear face coverings as required by this Order.”

At this time, the Los Angeles Order is recommending, but not requiring, that the covered businesses also install plexiglass to separate cashiers and customers at all points of sale.  It also allows any of the covered businesses to sell face coverings and emergency supplies to the public, subject to price-gouging laws.

Violation of the Los Angeles Order constitutes a misdemeanor, subject to fines and imprisonment, and Mayor Garcetti has urged the police to be vigilant in their enforcement.  

Other Jurisdictions

The City of Los Angeles is the largest California jurisdiction to implement a face-covering order as of the date of publication of this legal alert.  However, several other jurisdictions have also put similar requirements into place as discussed below:

San Diego County: All employees who may have contact with the public in any “grocery stores, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant and other business establishment that serves food” must wear “a cloth face covering.”  Further, “[o]wners of business establishments are responsible for ensur[ing] compliance with this section.”

Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and the City of Carson: Anyone leaving their home is required to wear a face covering.  This includes workers for “Essential Businesses.”  These orders are broadly worded, and appear fully applicable to public entity employers.

Many other cities and counties are expected to follow with similar orders in the coming days and weeks.  It is not clear whether the Governor is considering a state-wide order.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Employers must also be mindful of the obligations they have to comply with Cal/OSHA requirements for safety and health.  For instance, employers should provide training for cleaning and sanitizing the face coverings between shifts and/or use and remind employees that the face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and other hygiene requirements.

Contact the attorneys at AALRR if you have questions about whether a face-covering order applies to you or your business or agency, or if you need assistance with or have questions about any of the ever-changing orders, regulations, government programs adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These AALRR publications are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR presentation/publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.

©2020 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo



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