A Santa Monica College employee wears a mask while distributing food to students last month. (Matthew Hall)

The city of Santa Monica issued an order Wednesday night that requires people working and shopping at essential businesses to wear face coverings.

The order, which will go into effect Friday and last through the end of April, requires employers to provide or cover the cost of face coverings for employees and allow them to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes. Customers are also required to wear face coverings.

The local order follows a Tuesday order from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and similar orders from other cities and counties across California. City spokesperson Constance Farrell said all Santa Monica residents are also encouraged but not required to wear face coverings whenever they are outside their homes.

“We are acting in collaboration with cities throughout the county to flatten the curve and protect our residents, businesses and workforce,” said City Manager Rick Cole. “It’s best to stay home this week, but if you have to visit an essential business, it is essential to cover your face to protect lives.”

The order applies to nine categories of essential businesses, including stores or markets that sell food or household products, organizations that provide supplies and services for low-income individuals, restaurants, laundromats and hotels.

Essential workers such as plumbers, janitors, and Uber and Lyft drivers are also covered under the order, which is enforceable by the Santa Monica Police Department and any city employee with authority to issue written notices. Cole said in a Zoom town hall Wednesday that police officers will try to encourage people to comply with the order before resorting to citations.

Farrell said face coverings can include cloth masks, scarves, bandanas and neck gaiters. Residents should not wear medical grade face masks unless they are health care workers or first responders, she said.

The rate of new infections has slowed in Santa Monica as the third week of the local outbreak comes to a close, with one new case reported Thursday for a total of 82 cases in the city. Cases quintupled from four to 21 in the first week of the outbreak and tripled to 62 in the second week, but rose by just 32% in the third week.


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  1. What about runners? They should also wear masks! Sweating and running with mouths open. So bad!

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