What you need to know about mandated face coverings

A man shops in the Canyon County Plaza wearing a mask in Canyon Country on Saturday, April 11, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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As Santa Clarita Valley residents continue to work on flattening the curve of the coronavirus, Los Angeles County officials announced Friday the extension of the current “Safer at Home” health order through May 15.

The revised order, which goes into effect at midnight tonight, now requires the public to wear a face covering to enter essential businesses.

City of Santa Clarita officials quickly followed suit, as Mayor Cameron Smyth reiterated the mandate during his Friday news conference.

It’s the latest in steps being taken to continue to slow the spread of the virus, designed to protect both employees and customers visiting these essential businesses, and here are the details:

What is considered a face covering?

A face covering can be made of any cloth material that covers the nose and mouth.

Those who do not have access to masks can either sew them or improvise by using household items, such as T-shirts, scarves, bandanas or neck warmers, that can be secured with straps or simply wrapped or tied around the face.

Public health officials are discouraging the public from purchasing surgical masks or N95 respirators, as there is currently a shortage for health care workers who need them.

When should I wear a face covering?

Residents should use a clean face covering any time they expect they will be in contact with other people who are not members of their household, whether in a public or private space.

Face coverings are required to enter essential businesses, such as shopping for groceries, going to the doctor or picking up takeout meals.

What about outdoors?

Those who are outdoors, such as for exercise, a walk or hike, are not required to wear face coverings, though they are still required to remain 6 feet apart from others.

What about kids?

While children under the age of 2 or those with breathing problems shouldn’t wear face coverings, those 2-8 years old should do so only under adult supervision to ensure they can breath and aren’t choking.

What about employees?

Under the new health order, essential businesses now are also required to provide a cloth face covering for all their employees to wear while performing duties that involve contact with other employees or the public, or reimburse them for purchasing one.

Why now?

Though face coverings alone aren’t effective in preventing the infection, it can help to slow the spread of the virus, as they help to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air.

Public health officials continue to learn about COVID-19 and are finding that some who are contagious may not have symptoms or know they are spreading the virus.

How should I handle face coverings?

Ideally, face coverings should be washed with detergent and hot water after each use or daily. If that is not an option, be sure to wash your hands before and after touching your face covering each time.

Should I report those not following the order?

Those who wish to report businesses not following the protocol laid out in the latest health order can contact the L.A. County Department of Public Health at 888-700.9995 or online at bit.ly/DPHComplaint.

Public Health officials remind residents that face coverings are not a substitute for practicing physical distancing and other health guidelines, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching your face and other surfaces.

To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit signalscv.com/category/news/coronavirus.

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