San Francisco Bay Area and City of Berkeley Issue Mask Mandates for Even Fully-Vaccinated Individuals

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On August 2, 2021, the City and County of San Francisco updated Health Officer Order No. C19-07y, entitled “Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage and Reducing Disease Risks (Safer Return Together),” to require all individuals, including the fully vaccinated, to wear face coverings in indoor public settings, with some exceptions. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also issued a “FAQs for COVID-19 Health Order C19-07y,” which states that “[c]urrently a well-fitted mask is required in all indoor work settings including shared motor vehicles.” (Emphasis in original.)

Six other Bay Area counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma—and the City of Berkeley have issued similar orders regarding the use of face coverings indoors. The San Francisco city and county face covering requirements became effective on August 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in effect until the health officer rescinds, supersedes, or amends the order.

The San Francisco city and county health order includes several exemptions from the face covering requirement. These exemptions include the following:

  • Medical and/or safety exemption. The order states that individuals need not wear masks if a health care professional has provided a written exemption based on the individual’s “medical condition, other health concern, or disability.” In such situations, these persons “must wear an alternative face covering, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, unless they can show either: (1) a medical professional has provided a written exemption to this alternative face covering requirement . . . ; or (2) wearing an alternative face covering while working would create a risk to the person related to their work.”
  • Activity and/or location-based exemptions. The order also provides that individuals are not required to wear face coverings “when they are alone or with a member of their Household in a public building or completely enclosed space such as an office, and people who are not part of their Household are not likely to be in the same space.” (Emphasis in the original.) In addition, individuals need not wear face coverings while eating or drinking.

As of the publication date of this article, in California, in addition to the San Francisco Bay Area and the City of Berkeley, the counties of Los Angeles, Yolo, and Sacramento, and the City of Pasadena also have mandated the use of face coverings for fully-vaccinated individuals.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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