Here are California’s current mask recommendations and requirements.

On this page:

Masks in daily life

These are the statewide guidelines for masks. Your local area may have more. Check your area’s COVID-19 website.

  • Everyone is required to wear masks in the following settings:
    • Public transit
    • Healthcare settings (including long term care facilities)
    • Adult and senior care facilities
    • Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, and other youth settings
    • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers
    • Homeless shelters, emergency shelters, and cooling centers
Illustration of a man and a woman wearing masks while riding a train

  • Masks are required for unvaccinated people and recommended for everyone in indoor public places, like:
    • Retail
    • Restaurants
    • Theaters
    • Family entertainment centers
    • Meetings
    • State and local government offices that serve the public

See CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings and Face Coverings Q&A to learn more.

Read Get the Most out of Masking to learn how a mask can best protect you.

Mask-wearing exemptions

The following individuals are exempt from wearing masks at all times:

  • Children under two years old, due to the risk of suffocation.
  • People with:
    • A medical condition, 
    • Mental health condition, or 
    • Disability that precludes wearing a mask. This includes:
      • Those for whom a mask could obstruct breathing
      • Who are unconscious or incapacitated 
      • Unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • People for whom seeing the mouth is essential for communication:
    • Hearing impaired, or 
    • Those communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.
  • People for whom wearing a mask would create a risk as they work, as determined by:
    • Local, state, or federal regulators, or 
    • Workplace safety guidelines.

See complete mask exemptions details at CDPH’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.

Masks in the workplace

Cal/OSHA has aligned workplace mask requirements with general mask guidance from the CDPH.

  • Masks are not required outdoors (except during outbreaks), regardless of vaccination status. Workers should be trained for outdoor use of face coverings.
  • Masks are not required for fully-vaccinated employees indoors, but they are recommended. Employers must document employees’ vaccination status. 
    • There are some settings where masks are required regardless of vaccination status. In outbreaks, all employees must wear masks indoors and outdoors when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.
  • Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when:
    • Working indoors, or 
    • In a vehicle with others.
  • Unvaccinated workers must wear masks in state offices.

For more information, see Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), the state public health officer order of July 26, 2021, and CalHR’s Vaccine Verification and Testing Requirements.

Guidance for businesses

In settings where masks are still required, businesses, venue operators, or hosts may choose to:

  • Provide information to all patrons, guests and attendees regarding vaccination requirements and allow individuals to self-attest that they are fully vaccinated or meet an approved masking exemption prior to entry.
  • Implement vaccine verification to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask. 
  • Require all patrons to wear masks.

No person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a business.

Questions and answers

Which employers must require employees to wear masks under certain conditions?

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with the following exceptions:

  • Work locations where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people
  • Employees who are working from home
  • Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation
  • Employees working from a location chosen by the employee, which is not under the control of the employer (for instance, an employee teleworking from a café or a friend’s home).

Unvaccinated workers must be provided respirators and are strongly encouraged to wear them in healthcare settings like hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and they are required to wear surgical masks in high-risk congregate living settings and other healthcare settings such as homeless shelters and state and local correctional facilities and detention centers, as outlined in the state public health officer order of July 26, 2021.

State employees who work on-site and are unvaccinated must also wear masks. This is outlined in CalHR’s Vaccine Verification and Testing Requirements.

What are the mask requirements at workplaces?

The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) requires employers to provide employees who are not fully vaccinated with NIOSH-certified respirator masks. They must ensure they are worn over the nose and mouth when indoors, in vehicles, and when required by orders from the CDPH. No employees need to use masks outdoors, regardless of vaccination status, unless there is an outbreak.

The state public health officer order of July 26, 2021 requires unvaccinated employees in certain healthcare settings to be provided respirators, and requires unvaccinated employees in congregate living facilities and other healthcare settings to wear surgical masks at work. Congregate living facilities include adult and senior residential settings, homeless shelters, and state and local correctional facilities and detention centers.

CalHR’s Vaccine Verification and Testing Requirements say that state employees who work on-site and are unvaccinated must wear masks at work.

May an employer require an employee to wear a mask at work even if the employee provides documentation verifying that they are fully vaccinated?

Yes, employers can have policies that are stricter than those required by the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). However, an accommodation must be made for those:

  • Who cannot wear face coverings due to a medical or mental health condition or disability
  • Who are hearing-impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person
  • When an employee performs specific tasks which cannot be performed with a face covering