Following Palo Alto City Council approval on May 11, City Manager Ed Shikada issued an Emergency Order requiring face coverings to be worn in public beginning at noon on Wednesday, May 13. The Order, adopted unanimously during the Council meeting, requires all members of the public to wear face coverings when outside their home for any type of permitted activity, such as shopping at an essential business or obtaining medical care. Face coverings are not required, but are encouraged, when engaging in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, running or biking but each person engaged in such activity must comply with social distancing requirements including maintaining at least six feet of separation from all other people.
The City urges the community to stay safe and continue to Shelter in Place by staying at or close to home, per the County’s Shelter in Place Order. Wearing face coverings should be used if you must go outside for essential activities. Please continue to keep our community safe and save lives through Sheltering in Place. The County’s current Shelter in Place Order continues through May 31, 2020.
The City’s Order requires face covering to be worn in public and exempts wearing face coverings for:
- any child aged two years or less because of the risk of suffocation
- a person is in a personal, single room office when others outside of that person’s household are not present and as long as the public and coworkers do not regularly visit the room. By way of example and without limitation, a construction worker, plumber, bank manager, accountant, or bike repair person is not required to wear a face covering if that individual is alone and in a space not regularly visited by the public or coworkers, but that individual must put on a face covering when coworkers are nearby.
- driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle.
By adopting the new order, Palo Alto joins Cupertino and Milpitas as being the first three cities in Santa Clara County to adopt a face covering requirement that is more stringent that the Santa Clara County Health guidance on face coverings. Santa Clara County Health Department strongly recommends face coverings be used and requires a face covering to be used when visiting an essential business.
In making this decision, the Council took into account the fact that COVID-19 can spread through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and the fact that people can be infected and contagious while not showing any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic.
Anyone wishing to report a violation of the City’s face covering order is welcome to call the Police Department’s 24-hour dispatch center at 650–329–2413. The first goal of officers will be to provide education about the order. Officers will ask for voluntary compliance, and we are confident that our community members will do their part to comply. While violation of this emergency order can result in an administrative citation, that is a measure of last resort after all education and voluntary compliance efforts have failed.
To read the full Emergency Order for the new face coverings requirement and learn more specifics, click here.