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Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Face Coverings

April 13, 2020
by Sirinya Matute

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Face Coverings

We’ve received a lot of questions about face masks after last week’s supplemental order requiring workers and patrons to wear face coverings at essential businesses, and wanted to clarify when, where and who should use them.

Along with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, we advise members of the general public to use a clean non-medical face covering anytime they will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private places. If you cannot maintain six  feet of physical distance between yourself and others, you must wear a face covering.

If you still have questions, reach out to us at the COVID-19 hotline (310) 458-8400 or by emailing info@santamonica.gov.


What are the Do's and Don'ts when wearing face coverings?

Glad you asked! 

Why should I wear a face covering?

Recent information has indicated that covering your nose and mouth can slow the spread of COVID-19. Since individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. You may be contagious and do not know it. If you cover your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19. Another good reason to use face coverings is your touch your face less when your face is covered. Touching your face after touching something contaminated with COVID-19 increases your chances of getting sick with COVID-19.

Does my child need to wear a face covering?

It depends on the age of your child.

  • Ages 0 – 2: Do not wear a face covering.
  • Ages 2 – 8: Yes, can wear a face covering but under adult supervision to ensure that the child can breathe safely and avoid choking or suffocation.

Exception: If your child has breathing problems, such as asthma, do not have them wear a face covering.

Where am I required to wear a face covering?

All Employees and Patrons at open businesses in Santa Monica are now required to wear protective face coverings in accordance with LA County Department of Public Health Guidelines. All residents of the City are encouraged but not required to wear face coverings whenever they go outside their homes to obtain essential services and goods if six feet between non-household members cannot be maintained, as defined by the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and the County Department of Public Health’s Safer at Home Order. 

Do I need to wear a face covering at the grocery store?

Yes. As of April 8, all employees and patrons are required to wear a face covering at specific covered businesses in Santa Monica. Essential businesses can post this helpful flyer at the entrance to their businesses.

Do I need to wear a face covering at a medical appointment if I am sick and/ going to hospital or to the doctor’s office?

If you must leave the home for essential medical visits, please wear a surgical mask or a face covering.

Do I need to wear a face mask on a walk with my household members?

This is encouraged, but not required.  If you cannot maintain the physical distance of 6 feet between your immediate family and others, face coverings become required. 

Do I need to wear a face mask while running or biking?

This is encouraged, but not required. Please note, you should not be jogging, running or biking with individuals outside of your immediate family at this time.  If you cannot maintain the physical distance of 6 feet between your immediate family and others, face coverings become required.

Do I need to wear a face covering when walking my dog around the block?

This is encouraged, but not required. If you cannot maintain the 6 feet of physical distance between you and others outside of your immediate family, this becomes required.

Do I need to wear a face covering while at the park with my family?

We urge you to stay home and limit your time in our parks. A face covering while at the park is encouraged, but not required. If you cannot maintain the 6 feet of physical distance between you and others outside of your immediate family, this becomes required.

What kind of face covering should I be wearing?

Most of us can use cloth face coverings, which function as an additional tool that can protect others from possible exposure to respiratory droplets that may come from our mouth when we talk, sneeze or cough. N95’s and surgical masks should be worn for protection by healthcare staff and those workers who provide care to a person who might have COVID-19 or other communicable diseases. 

Check out our video on how to make your own face covering using materials you already have at home.

I have some protective face covering equipment, such as N95 masks. What can I do with them?

Many have asked how they can help our nurses, doctors & healthcare workers. If you want to donate/know of businesses that may be able to help with personal protective equipment like surgical masks, N95 face masks, face shields & other supplies, please email medsupply@dhs.lacounty.gov.

What do I do if I see workers not wearing masks or face coverings?

The City of Santa Monica’s emergency orders are enforceable by the Santa Monica Police Department and any City Officer or employee granted authority to issue written notices.  If you would like to report a business that is not following orders, please notify us at info@santamonica.gov or by calling Code Enforcement at (310) 458-4984.

My employer is unaware of the face covering rules and it’s causing problems. What do I do?  

You can provide your employer with the official City of Santa Monica information regarding the supplemental order requiring workers and patrons to wear face coverings at essential businesses. As Part of the LA County Department of Public Health Stay at Home Order, LA County also has requirements for posting a Social Distancing Protocol Form.  If your employer refuses to comply, please notify us at info@santamonica.gov or by calling Code Enforcement at (310) 458-4984.


For ongoing updates at Santa Monica’s response to COVID-19, visit santamonica.gov/coronavirus, and stay informed of future COVID-19 updates by signing up for our newsletter at santamonica.gov/newsletter.

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