SF issues new policy on face coverings for the coronavirus outbreak

The new Health Order requires residents and workers to wear face coverings at essential businesses and in public facilities, on transit, and while performing essential work.
April 17, 2020

The San Francisco Department of Public Health, in coordination with other Bay Area health departments, is requiring residents to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering, such as a bandana, scarf, towel, or other piece of cloth or fabric, when leaving home in many situations. These include doctor appointments, grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, and riding on public transit, among others.

Effective dates

This rule takes effect at 11:59 pm on April 17, 2020. We will not begin enforcing it until 8 am on April 22, 2020 to give you time to get your face coverings. 

The face covering order does not have an expiration date.  The Health Officer will evaluate the continuing need for a face covering, but it is expected that the requirement will continue for months in order to keep the infection rate as low as possible until better prevention and treatment options are available.  

Why the face covering requirement is being issued now

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California Department of Public Health, and San Francisco Department Public Health now recommend that members of the public, when they need to interact with others outside the home and especially in settings where many people are present such as waiting in lines and shopping, should cover the mouth and nose to prevent inadvertently spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.  

One key transmission method for the COVID-19 virus is respiratory droplets that people expel when they breathe or sneeze.  Wearing a face covering, when combined with physical distancing of at least 6 feet and frequent hand washing, may reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus when in public.

For more information

Read the Mayor’s official press release.

Get more information about the face covering requirement.

Read the official order

Health Order No. C19-12c (English)

Orden Del Oficial De Salud N.​ C19-12

衞生官員第 C19-12 號命令

Приказ Санитарного Врача No C19-12

Chỉ Thị Của Viên Chức Y Tế Số C19-12