See our Omicron surge page for up-to-date guidance on testing, vaccination, masking, isolation, and quarantine.

Emergency Regional Stay Home Order. Bay Area ICUs are near capacity. Stay home except for essential tasks. Keep errands short. Don't gather with anyone outside your household. Cancel plans for non-essential travel. Learn more.

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Face coverings during COVID-19

Wear a mask indoors - even if you're vaccinated.

Bay Area Health Officers urge everyone to wear face coverings indoors in public settings.

On this page

Masks still required for everyone in some settings

Bay Area Health Officers require everyone to wear masks indoors in public settings, venues, gatherings, and workplaces, such as, but not limited to: offices, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference and event centers, and government offices serving the public regardless of vaccination status. See full details in the Health Officer Order.

Additionally, California Department of Public Health guidance requires everyone 2 years and older to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status, when:

  • on shared transportation, including: buses, trains, taxis, ride-share, airplanes, and ferries
  • indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, and other youth settings
  • in healthcare settings, include long term care facilities
  • in shelters, cooling centers, and correctional facilities

Guidance for businesses and venue operators

Individuals, businesses, venue operators, hosts, and others responsible for the operation of indoor public settings must:

  • Require all patrons to wear face coverings for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status; and
  • Post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to all patrons.

Guidelines for face coverings

Wearing a face covering is not just about unknowingly spreading the virus. Because of Omicron's genetic mutations, mask also to protect yourself.

An N95, KN95 or KF94 are best. Otherwise, use your cloth mask over a surgical mask to improve the seal. Your cloth mask should be three layers.

A cloth mask alone is the least effective.

Protect yourself by having well-fitting masks that seal and are worn correctly: covering the entire mouth and nose.

See the  California Department of Public Health's masking page for more detail about how to mask.

What not to use

  • Masks with valves: Do not use masks that have a one-way valve designed for easier breathing (the valves are often a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask). These valves allow respiratory droplets out of the mask, which puts people nearby at risk.

Keep face coverings clean

Clean your hands before and after touching your face coverings.

If using a cloth mask as part of your face masking strategy, wash your face coverings frequently. Ideally, wash them after each use and keep them in a dedicated laundry bag or bin.

Follow CDC instructions on washing cloth face coverings by machine or by hand.

Exceptions: some groups are not required to wear face coverings

Medical, safety, and disability exceptions

You do not have to wear a face covering if:

  • you have been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering (must have documentation)
  • you have trouble breathing or are not able to take off a face covering without help
  • wearing a face covering would create a safety hazard at work, according to established health and safety guidelines
  • you have a physical disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering

If you are deaf and use facial and mouth movements as part of communication, you can remove your mask while signing.


Children under 2 should not wear face coverings, as this creates risk of suffocation.

Last updated January 10, 2021

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