LA Mayor Announces Face Masks Will Be Required in Public Starting Friday

During his daily coronavirus briefing, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning, all of the city's non-medical essential workers and customers visiting essential businesses will be required to wear cloth face coverings over their noses and mouths.

Garcetti called the new measure "a worker protection order to give our non-medical essential workers more tools to stay safe and to keep us all healthy."

The new measure states that employers are required to provide cloth face coverings to employees or to reimburse employees for their cost. The new measure applies to workers in grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, hotels, taxis and rideshare vehicles, construction sites and other essential businesses.

"We wanted to wait until [facial masks] were available," Garcetti said. "We can now see people selling them on corners, online. Our capacity, thanks to the amazing apparel industry here, has expanded."

In addition to the new measure, these businesses will also be required to ensure that employees have access to a clean and sanitary restroom along with proper cleansing products like soap and sanitizer. Employers must allow their workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes.

The chemical properties of soap and alcohol (the main ingredient in hand sanitizer) annihilate viruses by destroying the lipid outer layer that helps virus particles stick to human skin. The optimum time to allow soap to destroy virus particles is 20 seconds.

Eric Garcetti
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, speaks to the guest during Non Profit Launch Of "LA Collab" at The Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory on January 13, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Leon Bennett/Getty

Businesses will also be required to implement social distancing measures of six feet for all customers, visitors and workers. In addition to these measures, Garcetti is encouraging all essential retail businesses to add plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers.

Garcetti acknowledged, "We know there isn't yet enough plexiglass to go around, but we do hope to work to get as much of that as possible."

"Every Angelino will share this responsibility with their employers to keep workers and everybody else safe," Garcetti added. Towards this end, he said the city is encouraging customers to wear face coverings when they enter essential businesses as well.

"If you're not covering your face," he said, "an essential business can refuse you service."

Newsweek has reached out to Garcetti's office to ask what penalties employers could face if they violate these new measures. The mayor's office had not responded by the time of publication.

However, the office's handling of non-essential businesses that have refused to comply with Garcetti's executive order calling for the shutdown of all nonessential businesses could hold a clue. Noncompliant businesses have faced misdemeanor charges and other possible citations for possibly endangering public safety.