Face Masks and Physical Distancing

Woman wearing a face mask

Face Masks Required in Public

It has been mandatory since April 17 for most people (exceptions include very young children) in Sonoma County to wear a face mask/covering. The State of California has also mandated that people throughout the state to wear a face mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Physical Distancing Helps Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Wearing a face mask does NOT take the place of social distancing. The Sonoma County health orders state that you must keep at least six feet away from others in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet)  with each other for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from his or her mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. 

More Info on Face Masks

These face masks should NOT be N95 or other medical-grade masks; those should be reserved for healthcare workers. Instead, you can easily make your own face mask from t-shirts, scarves, bandannas, or even tea towels. 

Make your own face mask: This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has instructions to make a face mask (with no-sew and sew options).

There are a couple of exceptions to Sonoma County’s guidance on face masks: 
  • You don’t have to wear a face mask if you’re driving alone in your car or if you’re with members of your household. However, if you need to buzz down your car window to speak with people you don’t live with, put your face mask on. 
  • Don’t place face coverings on children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or who otherwise can’t remove the mask without help.
Face masks must: 
  • Be worn only by one person. Do not share masks.
  • Cover the mouth and nose and fit snugly around the face. 
  • Fitted carefully to prevent frequent adjustment.
  • Washed frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. If you must re-wear the face mask before you can wash it, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.
  • Be discarded if it gets stretched out or damaged and cannot stay on the face or has holes/tears in the fabric.
And remember to thoroughly wash your hands any time before or after touching and adjusting the face mask.