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San Francisco will require face coverings or masks in essential businesses and public transit

Supermarket cashier wears a masks
A supermarket cashier wears a mask while bagging grocery items at the Advance Food Market this month in L.A.'s West Adams neighborhood.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

San Francisco and other Bay Area counties issued orders Friday to require residents and workers to wear face coverings in essential businesses and when riding public transportation or in taxis.

Dr. Grant Colfax, the San Francisco director of public health, said at a news conference that the orders will not replace the six-foot physical distancing requirement.

When stay-at-home orders are eventually relaxed, “by then people will already be in the habit of wearing face coverings,” Colfax said.

Children younger than 12 will not be required to wear masks, and masks should never be placed on children younger than 2, he said.

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Mayor London Breed said the orders will be enforced by police.

“If you are not a police officer, don’t act like one,” she said. “We are not expecting people to police one another.”

Colfax also announced that a city jail inmate has tested positive for the virus, the first since the pandemic hit. The inmate was isolated, and investigators are checking on others who might have had contact with the person. Officials have been testing all new inmates during booking, Colfax said.

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So far 1,058 San Franciscans have tested positive out of 10,077 people tested, Colfax said. Twenty residents have died.

Ninety-one patients have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and about 30% of them are in intensive care units, he said.

The city had 1,048 acute care and 445 ICU beds available Friday “to meet the demands of the surge,” Colfax said.

City officials also announced a new program that will give elderly and disabled people access to taxis at an 80% discounted rate for making essential trips to stores and doctors. City transportation leaders said city staff will police bus stops to ensure people waiting are six feet apart, and buses will limit ridership to ensure distancing on board.

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Wearing face coverings or masks when conducting essential business such as shopping for food and keeping medical appointments is now the law in many parts of California.

But some jurisdictions are going further, requiring face coverings in most public settings.

Beverly Hills, Glendale and Riverside County require people to wear masks whenever they go outside, including for walks in their neighborhoods.


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