Follow your county’s community level to determine masking recommendations in your area.

On this page:

When to wear a mask

These are the statewide guidelines for masks. Your local area may require masks where the state doesn’t. Check your area’s COVID-19 website.

Masks are required in:
  • Healthcare settings
  • Long-term care and adult senior care settings

In other settings, masks may be recommended for people who are vulnerable. Masks are recommended for everyone when levels of COVID-19 infections are higher, depending on CDC COVID-19 Community Level.

Learn more in Guidance for the Use of Face Masks.

Illustration of a man and a woman wearing masks while riding a train

Upgrade your mask

When cases are on the rise or your risk is higher, increase your protection by upgrading your mask.

Most effective:

  • N95

More effective:

  • KF94
  • KN95
  • Double mask
  • Fitted surgical mask


  • Surgical mask

Least effective:

  • Cloth mask with 3 or more layers

Whatever mask you wear, make sure it fits to your face closely and without gaps.

Learn more:

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 help
  • 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

Read more about mask exemptions at Guidance for the Use of Face Masks.

Masking at work

Cal/OSHA has issued the following mask requirements.

  • Masks are strongly recommended indoors
    • In outbreaks, wear masks indoors and outdoors when you can’t maintain six feet of distance
  • Masks are not required outdoors (except during outbreaks)
    • Workers should train for outdoor use of face coverings
  • Employers must provide unvaccinated employees with NIOSH-certified respirator masks for voluntary use when:
    • Working indoors, or 
    • In a vehicle with others

For more information, see: