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September 17, 2021
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New mask mandate

August 6, 2021

Order of the Sonoma County Public Health Officer for the wearing of face coverings in workplaces and public settings

Date of order: August 2, 2021

Please read this Order carefully.  Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.  (California Health and Safety Code § 120275, et seq.)

Under the authority of California Health and Safety Code Sections 101040, 101085, and 120175, the Health Officer of the County of Sonoma (“health officer”) orders:

1. Summary: This Order requires all individuals to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, with limited exemptions, and recommends that businesses make face coverings available to individuals entering the business.

2. Effective date and time: This Order becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. on August 3, 2021, and will continue, as updated, to be in effect until the Health Officer rescinds, supersedes, or amends it in writing.

3. Basis: Since March 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant has been circulating in Sonoma County. This variant is highly transmissible in indoor settings and requires multi-component prevention strategies to reduce spread. Despite high vaccination rates, Sonoma County is experiencing substantial levels of community transmission due to the Delta variant. Since June 15, 2021, the County’s seven-day average COVID-19 daily case rate increased from 5.7 new cases per 100,000 residents per day to 14 new cases per 100,000 residents per day as of July 30, 2021. Transmission is particularly widespread among the County’s unvaccinated population. As of July 30, 2021, unvaccinated residents had a COVID-19 daily case rate of 28.7 new cases per 100,000 residents per day as compared to 5.6 new cases per 100,000 residents per day among fully vaccinated residents. Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have also increased, from a seven-day average of 10 patients in County hospitals as of June 15, 2021, to a seven-day average of 45 patients in County hospitals as of July 30, 2021. Since June 15, 2021, multiple outbreaks have occurred in congregate settings including a homeless shelter outbreak that infected 112 shelter residents and resulted in 11 hospitalizations and 1 death among shelter residents.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the US have been shown to be highly safe and effective at providing protection to individuals and communities, particularly against severe COVID-19 disease and death, and are recommended by the CDC for all populations for whom the vaccine is authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration. The Health Officer strongly recommends that all eligible persons in the County be vaccinated. Information on obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine in Sonoma County is available here: https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/.

On July 27, 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance for fully vaccinated people given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html). CDC recommends that fully vaccinated persons wear a mask in public indoor settings. On July 28, 2021, CDPH aligned its Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings with the CDC and recommends universal masking in public indoor settings statewide (https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx). CDC and CDPH also endorsed that fully vaccinated people at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, as well as unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated persons consider wearing a mask in non-public indoor settings. Household transmission and small gatherings are major drivers of COVID-19 transmission in Sonoma County.

Universal indoor use of face coverings, also known as masking, is the least disruptive and most immediately impactful additional measure to take. This Order is part of a strategy to support the continued operations of businesses, activities, and schools. As of this date, the Health Officer strongly believes that schools can and should reopen in full for in-person classes for all grades at the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year.

The Health Officer will continue to assess the public health situation as it evolves and may modify this Order, or issue additional Orders, related to COVID-19, as changing circumstances dictate.

4. Face covering requirement: This Order directs that face coverings shall be worn, regardless of vaccination status, over the mouth and nose, in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and workplaces, such as, but not limited to: offices, retail stores, restaurants, bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference centers, schools, daycares, and State and local government offices serving the public.

5. Operators of indoor public settings: Governmental entities, businesses, venue operators, hosts, and others responsible for the operation of indoor public settings must:

a. Require all employees, contractors, visitors, and patrons to wear face coverings for all indoor settings, regardless of their vaccination status; and

b. Post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage at all entry points for indoor settings to communicate the masking requirements to all patrons.

A governmental entity, business owner, or operator may, to the extent authorized by law, refuse admission or service to any customer or visitor who fails to wear facial coverings. In addition, those responsible for indoor public settings are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings at no cost to individuals required to wear them.

A “business” for purposes of this Order includes any for-profit, non-profit, religious or educational entity, whether a corporate entity, organization, partnership or sole proprietorship, and regardless of the nature of the service, the function it performs, or its corporate or entity structure.

6. Exemptions from face covering requirements: Individuals are not required to wear face coverings in the following circumstances:

a. Persons who are working alone in a closed office or room;

b. Persons who are actively eating and/or drinking;

c. Persons swimming or showering in a fitness facility;

d. Persons who are obtaining a medical or cosmetic service involving the head or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;

e. Persons who are specifically exempted from wearing face coverings pursuant to other CDPH guidance.

7. Cal/OSHA COVID-19 emergency temporary standards: Employers and businesses subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) and/or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standards should consult the applicable regulations for additional requirements. The ETS allow local health jurisdictions to mandate more protective measures. This Order, which requires face coverings for all individuals in indoor settings and businesses, regardless of vaccination status, takes precedence over the more permissive ETS regarding employee face coverings.

8. Mega events: Mega-Events must continue to comply with the restrictions set forth in the CDPH guidance Beyond the Blueprint for Industries and Sectors https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Beyond-Blueprint-Framework.aspx.

9. Incorporation of State and Local Emergency Proclamations and Federal and State Health Orders: This Order is issued in accordance with, and incorporates by reference, the emergency proclamations and other federal, state, and local orders and other pandemic-related orders described below in this Section. But this Order also functions independent of those emergency proclamations and other actions, and if any State, federal, or local emergency declaration, or any State or federal order or other guidance, is repealed, this Order remains in full effect in accordance with its terms.

10. Obligation to follow stricter requirements of orders: Where a conflict exists between this Order and any state or federal public face covering order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision (i.e., the more protective of public health) controls.

11. Enforcement: Pursuant to Government Code sections 26602 and 41601 and Health and Safety Code section 101029, the Health Officer requests that the Sheriff and all chiefs of police in the County ensure compliance with and enforce this Order. The Sheriff, chiefs of police, code enforcement, County Counsel, District Attorney, and city attorneys are empowered to ensure compliance with and enforce this Order within their jurisdictions. The violation of any provision of this Order constitutes an imminent threat and menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

12. Justification: The Health Officer has determined that this Order, and its Prior Shelter Orders, were and are necessary because cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout the County. COVID-19 is highly contagious and has a propensity to spread in various ways including, but not limited to, by attaching to surfaces or remaining in the air, resulting in physical damage and/or physical loss.

13. Public distribution: Copies of this Order shall promptly be: (1) made available at the County Administration Center at 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa CA 95403; (2) posted on the County Public Health Department website (https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Public-Health/) and (https://socoemergency.org/); and (3) provided to any member of the public requesting a copy of this Order.

14. Severability: If any provision of this Order to the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held to be invalid, the reminder of the Order, including the application of such part or provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the provisions of this Order are severable.

 IT IS SO ORDERED:

Dr. Sundari R. Mase, MD, MPH Date

Health Officer, County of Sonoma