Masks REQUIRED | L.A. County Issues New Face Covering Mandate

The ordinance was passed on April 14 in order to protect both customers and essential workers

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Masked grocery shoppers, some with gloves, waiting in line to enter local market

Growing concerns and efforts to contain the coronavirus have lead the County of Los Angeles to issue an edict declaring that Person Protection Equipment (PPE) masks are now required to be worn by anyone either working at or planning on going to any location considered to provide essential services.

The ordinance is effective immediately following the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ April 14 morning decision to pass it the morning of Tuesday, April 14.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants are on the top of the list, as they have had to handle to the influx of thousands of customers weekly. While the risk of infection has been a looming concern for essential workers, it became a tangible reality after several employees at the South Pasadena location for Trader Joe’s were reported to have COVID-19, resulting in the store’s temporary closure for cleaning and sanitation.

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Essential services have already been prescribed by the county to provide PPE garments and sanitization products such as hand sanitizer to its employees or to provide funds to cover the expenses if the employees purchase the products themselves.

Workers have been and are still required to wear masks and gloves but now the regulation has extended to customers as well. Repercussions for any parties refusing to adhere to the new guidelines include fines, citations or ejection from the premises. Failure to comply is considered a misdemeanor.

In addition to the increasingly stringent safety measures, grocery stores and pharmacies have also been required to place plexiglass barriers at points of purchase or areas with customer/employee interactions.

The order comes on the heels of similar policies being announced for the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena, which have gone into effect already. Thus far, a total of 88 cities in L.A. County have passed identical ordinances in order to strengthen the security of both service workers and customers.

South Pasadena is within Los Angeles County, meaning that the city must comply with any laws put into effect under the county’s jurisdiction. Though the City may release its own set of guidelines, the county’s as well as the state’s mandates, still supersede any decisions made by city council or city manager.

Though many citizens in South Pasadena have already been practicing prudent health precautions by keeping in line with social distancing and wearing protective equipment, just like the “safer-at-home” orders issued last month, face coverings are no longer strongly suggested but mandatory under the “safer-at-home” orders issued last month.

To clarify, it has not been explicitly stated by the County that face coverings are imperative when performing outdoor activities that are not in close proximity to others; i.e: recreational activities like jogging, or dog walking. The caveat to that is their strong recommendation to limit any trips outside of the home, even to essential businesses. Health officials have persistently reiterated that staying at home, diligently practicing social distancing, and maintaining good hygiene, are still the primary methods for containing the virus.

The term “face covering” may also apply to a number of different articles of clothing, as long as it is “A cloth face covering (that) is a material that covers the nose and mouth which can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face,” according to the California Department of Public Health, which also elaborates, “It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen.”

It is also paramount to frequently wash your face coverings, daily if needed, or after any trips outdoors. As the Los Angeles City order reads, “All essential, non-medical workers required to wear these face coverings must frequently (at least once a day) wash any reusable face coverings, for the health and safety of themselves and others,” as should any citizens interacting with aforementioned essential workers.

Medical grade or N95 masks have been in notoriously short supply, and although they are technically not off-limits to the public, health officials strongly advise that those supplies remain available to medical workers who need proper protective equipment.

Another highlight in the new county ordinance requires grocery stores to provide designated senior shopping hours, something that South Pasadena markets haves been doing for several weeks now.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, author of the ordinance, emphasized that these new mandates are in effect to ensure the well-being of all members of the community saying, “We need to be there for them like they are there for us. They are basically frontline responders and shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk because of working conditions.”

Stay tuned for updates regarding how the city of South Pasadena will be handling the new mandates