SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Starting Friday, April 17, everyone in Sonoma County will be required to wear face coverings when in public as an added measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the order issued by the Sonoma County Health Officer, people must wear face coverings before they enter any of the following:

  • An indoor facility (except their home)
  • Any enclosed space
  • An outdoor space where they cannot keep a distance of 6 feet away from others at all times

The order also applies to employers who continue to be open for business during the stay-at-home orders mandated by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Employers are also ordered to make sure their workers comply and they must provide workers with face coverings or make sure the workers have access to face coverings or use their own.

According to the order, businesses can deny entry or service to any customer or visitor who is not wearing a face covering.

“We hope those in our County understand the importance of complying with these Orders and cover their faces when engaging in essential activities in public. I would like to emphasize the public’s role in helping stop the spread of COVID-19 by using facial coverings and continuing to stay at home,” said Sonoma County Chair, Susan Gorin. 

With the ongoing shortage of surgical and N95 face masks at hospitals across the country, the general public is encouraged to make their own from cloth, as long as the nose and mouth are both covered.

“These measures recently put in place are having an effect in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Sonoma County. The use of facial coverings is another strategy to stop the virus from spreading from infected people who do not present symptoms. As we approach an expected surge in cases, we are increasing protective measures,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County Health Officer. 

As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 150 cases of coronavirus in Sonoma County, with 2 deaths.

Sonoma County is the first in the Bay Area to make face coverings mandatory in public.

Several other counties in California have made similar orders, such as Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles.

The CDC recently updated its guidelines “in light of new evidence” showing “a significant portion” of those with coronavirus are either asymptomatic – meaning they lack symptoms altogether – or presymptomatic, meaning they can spread the virus to others without first showing signs of it themselves.

“This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity – for example, speaking, coughing or sneezing – even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,” the CDC states in its updated guidelines.

The masks do not have to be hospital grade. Bandanas, fabric masks and neck gaiters are acceptable, health officials said. Fabric covers and bandanas can be washed and used repeatedly.

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