“We all have to recognize that we’re not moving beyond COVID-19 — we’re learning to live with it,” the city’s mayor said.

By Alison Fox
May 15, 2020
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The city of Los Angeles will now require everyone in public to wear a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week.

“We all have to recognize that we’re not moving beyond COVID-19 — we’re learning to live with it. That means taking every reasonable precaution, so we can continue taking careful steps forward to safely begin reopening the economy and getting some of our lives back,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Face coverings help stop the spread of the virus. Wearing them whenever we’re away from home will create a meaningful layer of protection for people we might come into contact with, and that makes sense at this stage of our response to the crisis. It’s simple: Wear one whenever you go out.”

A variety of face coverings were seen, as were some bare faces, as walkers, runners, surfers and swimmers came out to the beach, of Manhattan Beach, CA, as Los Angeles County beaches re-open Wednesday, May 13, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The city recommends that people use cloth face coverings and reserve medical grade and N95 masks for healthcare workers. Young children and people with certain disabilities are exempt from the order, according to the city.

The new guidance comes as the city has recorded more than 35,300 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 1,700 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

California has had a stay-at-home order in place since March 19, and recently started allowing retailers like clothing stores to reopen for curbside pickup. In Los Angeles, Garcetti said all retail businesses except those in indoor malls are allowed to resume operations. Additionally, the city’s beaches have been permitted to reopen for exercise and swimming.

People bike despite the bike path being closed in Venice Beach, California on the first day Los Angeles County allowed beaches to reopen after a six-week closure implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19),on May 13, 2020. - The County only allows activities such as running, walking, swimming and surfing with sunbathing and volleyball not allowed.
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

“We will continue to adjust the order gradually — to safely allow more activities, more businesses to operate, and more Angelenos to get back to work,” Garcetti said in the statement. “This is a process. We are constantly assessing how to take steps forward whenever we can or backward whenever we have to. No matter what, we’re guided by science and committed to transparency — and I’ll keep doing whatever is necessary to keep people safe, healthy, and informed every step of the way.”

The Los Angeles order comes weeks after New York started requiring people to cover their faces in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended wearing a face mask when social distancing is not possible to prevent the unintentional spread of the virus by asymptomatic people.

The recommendation has also been adopted by several airlines, including JetBlue, Delta, and United, as well as by Amtrak.