Where do I need to wear a mask? The rules vary across Southern California

Masked visitors attend the reopening of a farmers market May 12 in Manhattan Beach. The market was closed for eight weeks due to the coronavirus.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles city and county this week imposed stricter rules requiring the wearing of masks outdoors to continue efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Face coverings, experts say, are a key component in combating COVID-19 because they can help block the transmission of respiratory droplets that carry the disease.

But the rules vary widely across Southern California. Here’s what they say:

The significant increase in the city’s coronavirus mandates is necessary to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Eric Garcetti says.

May 14, 2020


City of Los Angeles

Where must you wear a face covering?

  • If you visit any retail business (except those in indoor malls, which are still closed), including those that are open only for curbside or doorside pickup
  • If you exercise in your neighborhood or are on a trail, golf course or beach (where you must wear a face covering if you are out of the water and people are nearby)
  • If you ride on L.A. Department of Transportation transit buses, Metro buses or trains, or travel through Los Angeles International Airport
  • The new guidelines on face coverings exempt children under 2 and people with certain disabilities.

Mayor Eric Garcetti says the more stringent mask-wearing rules are a necessary step to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and eventually reopen the economy in a bigger way.

“Bring your mask with you whenever you leave your home,” Garcetti said. “That will help us get more freedoms.”

L.A. now has strictest face mask requirements in California. Can we cover up?

May 15, 2020

County of Los Angeles

Beaches: According to a county statement, “face coverings are required at all times on the beach and around other people, unless in the water, and the county urges everyone to keep at least six feet of physical distancing from other visitors. Once finished with an activity, all beachgoers are asked to head home.”

Further guidance: “Masks are, in fact, mandatory across the entire county when you’re outside of your home, not with members of your household and in any kind of contact with other people,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.


Even when on a solitary walk or run, Ferrer said, “you now need to have a face covering with you, because if you came by other people, you were walking by other people, you tried to go into a grocery store, you absolutely have to have that face covering on.”

Residents should wear a cloth face covering “any time you’re out and there are people around, whether it be at a trailhead or a parking lot or a sidewalk,” she said. Officials also said visitors to the county’s beaches, which opened Wednesday for active recreational use, must cover their faces unless they are in the water.

LAX and many airlines are now requiring face coverings to avoid coronavirus spread. TSA agents will don them too.

May 8, 2020

San Diego County

Masks are required in public but only when the wearer is within six feet of others. Jogging, bicycling and other outdoor activities are exempt, though the city does require residents to carry a mask outdoors and have it readily available in case other people appear.

San Francisco

Face coverings are required in public indoor facilities and outdoors when waiting in line for public transportation or entering a store. But outdoor exercise such as walking, jogging and cycling can be done with fresh air on uncovered faces.

Orange County

Under a county ordinance issued last month, “all employees of any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant, food preparation establishment, or retail store in Orange County who may have contact with the public must wear a cloth face covering while at work.”

Riverside County officials voted unanimously to rescind all stay-at-home orders that went beyond Gov. Newsom’s, including a face mask requirement.

May 11, 2020

Riverside County

Different cities in the Inland Empire have different rules.

Coachella and Cathedral City officials voted Wednesday to require residents to wear face coverings in certain public settings, joining other Riverside County cities such as Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs and La Quinta.

The regulation comes less than a week after the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to rescind several public health orders implemented by the county’s public health director, Cameron Kaiser. Following the vote, face coverings were no longer a requirement but were “strongly recommended whenever practical and within reason.”

San Bernardino County

Earlier this month, San Bernardino County rescinded its mandatory face-covering order.

“The County strongly urges everyone to continue wearing face coverings in public to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and businesses may still require face coverings for customers and employees,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman said in a statement.