San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow has issued a new order requiring members of the public and workers at essential businesses to wear face coverings outside the home for certain activities and in places of business.

The order will take effect this weekend but will not be enforced until 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 22, 2020, and will remain in effect until it is amended or superseded by the health officer. The order is also set to take effect in the other Bay Area counties.

According to the order, coverings can be factory-made or improvised from ordinary household materials and can be any type of cloth, fabric or other soft material that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. Scarves, bandanas, neck gaiters, homemade coverings made from T-shirt material or other fabric and held with rubber bands are appropriate. Purchased masks may also be used but should not be medical grade, such as N95 respirators, which are in short supply and prioritized for health care workers.

The order requires members of the public to wear face coverings when they are inside or in line to enter essential businesses such as grocery stores and laundromats, when they are in hospitals, clinics, COVID-19 testing locations, dentists and facilities providing veterinary care, and when they are waiting for or riding on public transportation, including ride shares, Caltrain and BART.

Drivers or operators of any public transportation, private car service, or ride-hailing vehicle to wear a face covering while driving regardless of whether a member of the public is present due to the need to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets in the vehicle at all times. The order does not require a face covering while driving alone or with members of the same family or household in a vehicle not used commercially.

Wearing a face covering is recommended but not required for outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling or running though social distancing requirements still hold and it’s recommended to carry face coverings at all times. Children under 2 should not wear the masks because of the risk of suffocation and any child under 12 is not required, according to the order.

With exceptions for medical conditions and workplace safety guidelines, the order notes that failure to comply with any of its provisions constitutes an imminent threat and immediate menace to public health, constitutes a public nuisance, and is punishable by fine, imprisonment or both, according to the order.

There are 797 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in San Mateo County and 28 deaths. County Manager Mike Callagy reported Friday that Verily, the testing company operating a site at the Event Center, changed the criteria so first responders like ambulance drivers, police officers and firefighters can get tested without showing symptoms.

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(22) comments

Wally World

I believe that the restrictions have not been well thought. What is the matter if my gardener comes and cleans up my yard and cuts the lawn? One guy with no contact with me or my wife. He stays off unemployment and has an income. Same way with the 5 guys building a house across the street. Why can't I travel more than 5 miles from my home to exercise. Who came up with data to substantiate that requirement.

On the other hand those citizens that refuse to at least do the minimum to help stop the spread of Covid19 let them sign an agreement that they will refuse any medical treatment, including hospitalization, if they are tested positive. I actually saw this on Yahoo news the other day. Everyone needs to be safe.


This order is so ridiculous. Its not even legally enforceable. Considering there's no cohesive blanket of coverage from county to county. Some counties aren't saying its mandatory, just suggested as a good idea. Fines? Police? We're not under martial law here! Its funny, in the same manner we fight for the right of a woman to wear a hijab, it also applies in the other direction as well. Forcing ppl to wear face masks under penalty of jail or fines doesn't work. If this was state-wide, you may have a case. But its not. Its localized and that's a big hole in enforceability.


Mr. Lawyer, you are very sadly mistaken. BTW, what is your Bar number?


Cloth masks may not prevent you from getting the virus, but it does slow the transmission. There's plenty of evidence that these worked in Asia and the Czech Republic to bend the curve.

Jon N

Masks are not going to do much good. It's virus theater, like the TSA is security theater. I'll wear one because it's the law now, but it's just meaningless.


All this fear mongering is making me ill. I don't wear a mask because they don't do anything, but I'll wear it just to comply with our Master's orders.


FEAR MONGERING BS! LiberalnDeepbState lies! I will not wear a mask for a PLANDEMIC bs controlling virus. This is a disgrace and I cant wait for a civil war to start!


Of course. The civil war will be all you unmasked guys against the "Deep State." Trump will provide you with money to buy weapons, from the retained earnings of all his companies that went out of business without paying their employees or contractors.

Terence Y

Perfect! Now anyone with criminal intent can just put on a hat and sunglasses and they'll be unidentifiable by witnesses or cops or security cameras. I guess cops can stop issuing those APBs or BOLOs since they won't be able to see any distinguishable features as they cruise around. All hail King Morrow! Or all sue King Morrow for any losses or crimes committed against you that may incur due to his edict.

Larry T

Fear mongering and defiance, unbelievable. Will it hurt you to wear a mask. I guess all those opposed are immune, or, maybe the virus is all fake news.

Terence Y

Mr. Tallman, where's your outrage for all of the convicted criminals being set free by your so called authorities? What about all the people released after being arrested for crimes? What about CA being a sanctuary state, harboring illegal aliens invading our country? What about your governor giving away taxpayer money to these same illegal aliens? I guess crime does pay. When you receive conflicting actions by your so called authorities, is it any wonder why people have no respect for these authorities? By the way, unnamed sources tell me Dr. Morrow may soon require you to add two spoons of Metamucil in anything you drink, else you'll be fined or imprisoned, or both. You know, for everyone's health.


It IS Fake News, intended to hurt Trump's re-election campaign. BTW, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.


Who at san bruno city hall manager, city council and left employees on the payroll is going to be responsible to notify all residence where they can get a mask and that the city will provide a place for residence giving ID to recieve a mask. Many are unable to get and or buy a mask and this would be an emergency situation. The county made it convient to this into effect right away knowing that the public would be unable to get masks and therefore they would have to stay in doors and be unable to buy groceries to live on.


One has until Wednesday to get a mask, but it can be a home-made mask.


Just remember not everyone has a computer and internet as a source to find something to use. If county is mandating they need to give a reasonable time frame to acquire product to be used and not you sleeves. Three days is unreasonable no matter what the situation is and following China isn't the way to go.


3 days in this County is not long enough to hear your loudmouth neighbor complaining about the new requirements and reciting them to you chapter and verse? Then you must be someone who stays inside all the time anyway.


Obviously San Bruno city government officials are all directly descended from Hitler officials and this is some sort of Nazi experiment.

Terence Y

So they’re going to imprison you for not wearing a mask even though they’re releasing convicted criminals into the public? Why can’t people outside of cars not carry ID, and if you’re cited, say your name is Jane Jones or Jorg Adams? Will you then be threatened with imprisonment and get to interact with the cops and everyone in the booking process? What if you have a phobia about things covering your mouth and nose? Will a doctor’s permission slip suffice? During the next flu season, will CA need to be shut down or else have to explain in court why the “new normal” doesn’t apply, even though the flu will probably kill more people than the Wuhan virus? What if you claim you never heard of this order? Will cops show it to you? What if you insist it is fake news, because we all know the mainstream media is full of fake news? Who elected this Scott Morrow character to be dictator of San Mateo? What’s next, bunny suits? Everyone needs to eat their vegetables, else you’ll be fined or imprisoned, or both? Can we follow this Scott Morrow character, or any other public official, including cops, to ensure they are following the order? Is this just a scare tactic and a money grab? So many more questions…


Buddy, the cops don't mess around in this area. Cop an attitude like that and you will end up in jail.


I so agree with you, Terence Y, and have tried in vain to ask this Morrow character questions, but of course there is no email, and I could only ask through Facebook. I asked him why he would impose masks NOW, that "the curve is flattened" and was referred to the CDC order that plainly says masks are encouraged on a VOLUNTEER basis. It's only this dictator that has put the strictest restrictions in the COUNTRY on us, when we have only 39 deaths, most of them in nursing homes. He puts our gardeners out of work, and puts this arbitrary 5 mile limit on us. And his quote in the paper was that he "spits in the face" of anyone who defies him? He needs to be removed!! I can't believe that this country is sitting back and watching our constitutional rights go down the drain over this virus. If they get away with it once, they'll try it again, maybe for even less of a reason, all in the name of our "safety" another word for control.

Terence Y

Very true, chrisv. At this point, CA needs to continually move the goalposts so they can keep control. I predict this will only go so far before people begin ignoring the edicts. In my neighborhood, gardeners are still doing work and people have been traveling outside this arbitrary 5 mile limit. Keep all of this in mind when SMC asks for any type of tax increase since the powers-that-be have decided to crater the economy for such a long period. I would recommend that anybody receiving a CARES check spend it on safety and security tools.


Well, the Journal didn't post my last comment, maybe because I had some capital letters in it? Or maybe our first amendment right to free speech is being taken away with all our other rights. Anyway Terence, I agree with everything you are saying. I have not been able to reach Scott Morrow except via Facebook. When I asked about the mask order, I was referred to the CDC guidelines that said face masks are voluntary. We are one of the few places in the country to require facemasks and have an arbitrary 5 mile rule. I believe Mr. Morrow is way overstepping his bounds with his new found power. He was quoted as saying he "spits in the face" of anyone who disagrees with him, so that might tell you what kind of a power trip he's on.

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