April 22, 2020

More States and Municipalities Impose Mandatory Face Covering and Other Workplace Protections

After an initial wave that saw a focus on closing or limiting “non-essential” or “non-life sustaining” businesses and limiting individual travel, states and municipalities have shifted their attention to protections for those who are continuing to work and travel as they perform essential personal and professional functions. The primary, but not only, area of such focus is on mandating the use of cloth or fabric masks. This change has come as more has become known about how the highly infectious coronavirus spreads, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommending that cloth face coverings be worn “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” such as grocery stores and pharmacies, “especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

These new orders vary in their scope and strictness. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, for example, has issued an order requiring masks to be worn by employees of businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations and further requiring employers to provide such masks. The Pennsylvania order also requires most shoppers to wear masks before entering most stores.

Cities and municipalities have also issued mask orders, and those orders are often the most stringent. For example, Miami, Florida has mandated face coverings for anyone entering restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies or other retail stores. Similarly, Laredo, Texas has issued an order requiring anyone over the age of five to wear “some form of covering over their nose and mouth” while in taxis, public transportation or inside a public building. Penalties for violating the mask orders vary as well, with some states and municipalities imposing fines of up to $1,000.

Faegre Drinker has been tracking mask requirement orders in various states and municipalities. Currently those state orders include:


The state's mask order applies to all residents who are in a public place, over age two and who can't maintain at least six feet of distance from other people. The order also applies to any use of public transportation, taxis or rideshare services. The state also released guidance for employees at essential businesses. The guidance states that employees must wear masks or material that covers their mouth and nose at all times while at work. Employers must provide masks or the materials to make them.


Hawaii’s order requires that customers at essential businesses wear cloth face coverings. The order also states that employees who interact with customers or goods at essential businesses must wear masks.


The Maryland order requires a face covering for anyone (both consumer and employee) inside any retail establishment or when riding any form of public transportation.

New Jersey

New Jersey’s order requires that customers and employees wear face coverings at essential businesses and construction sites. Businesses must provide them to employees and deny entry to any customers who refuse to wear them. Employees and commuters on New Jersey public transit and private carriers must wear face coverings while on trains, buses and light rails.

New York

For all essential businesses or entities, any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees.


Any business that is authorized to maintain in-person operations is required to provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business. The order also makes it mandatory for employees to wear masks while on the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC. The Pennsylvania order also requires customers to wear masks in grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses that are authorized to be open, and stores must deny entry to those not wearing masks in most (but not all) cases.

Rhode Island

All employees of customer-facing businesses, office-based businesses, nonprofits, construction businesses and manufacturers must wear cloth face coverings while at work, such coverings to be provided by their employees. Face coverings can include scarves, bandanas and other homemade and non-factory-made masks.

Faegre Drinker has also been tracking orders in various municipalities, including the following:

California Orders

Los Angeles, California: The City of Los Angeles order requires that shoppers and workers wear face coverings during “essential shopping.” Under the order, businesses may refuse entry to anyone not wearing a face covering.

San Francisco, California: Individuals must wear masks on public transit, inside public buildings, health facilities and essential businesses. Businesses should refuse service to anyone who isn’t wearing a face covering and ensure their workers are wearing masks.

Beverly Hills, California: Locals are under orders to cover their face when outdoors, even just for a walk.

Riverside County, California: Residents must wear face coverings in public or face a $1,000 fine.

Texas Orders

Dallas (County), Texas: All residents over the age of two are required to wear face coverings when visiting essential businesses. Essential business employees and riders of public transportation will also be required to comply with the order.

San Antonio, Texas: The city is now mandating that all residents 10 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings.

Austin, Texas (Travis County): Residents over the age of 10 are now required to wear face coverings when in public.

Laredo, Texas: The city issued an emergency mandate last month for anyone over age five to wear “some form of covering over their nose and mouth” while in taxis, public transportation or inside a public building. Violators could face a fine up to $1,000.

Miami, Florida

Face coverings are required for people going into restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said police will enforce the measure but will help educate people before issuing fines. Similar rules are in effect in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

Chicago Area Orders

Skokie, Illinois: The city issued an order beginning April 23, 2020 that requires all individuals to wear face coverings “while working at or patronizing a business open to the public.” The emergency directive includes grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores, financial institutions, pharmacies, group homes and more. Workers who are delivering food or products to people’s homes in Skokie will also be required to wear facial protection.

Cicero, Illinois: The town issued an executive order requiring all employees and customers at grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores, convenience stores and gas stations to wear face coverings. "Failure to comply will result in a citation and a fine," the order states.

Glenview, Illinois: Everyone over the age of five is required to cover their nose and mouth with a covering while working at or patronizing an essential business open to the public and when using public transportation.

Additionally, Faegre Drinker is tracking upcoming mask orders in Northbrook, Niles, Highland Park, Wilmette and Morton Grove.1

Importantly, while mandatory use of masks is a key aspect of all of these orders, many states and localities are also requiring essential employers who are open during the crisis to take other precautions, such as mandatory employee temperature screening in certain situations, workplace cleaning protocols (particularly after a positive employee coronavirus test), using staggered employee start and stop times, setting aside sufficient space for social distancing, limiting the number of people who can attend in-person meetings, and restricting the circumstances under which non-essential visitors can enter the business.

We expect this trend to continue, at least in areas of the country with higher numbers of confirmed cases or where there are particular concerns about worker exposure. There is also the possibility that restrictions may be loosened in some areas, as governments proceed with “re-opening” efforts. We therefore recommend that employers continue to monitor and follow CDC, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and local department of health guidance in their day-to-day operations, as they evolve and change. Employers should also continue thinking about the feasibility of additional safety precautions in the event circumstances warrant or their state or locality require them. 


As the number of cases around the world grows, Faegre Drinker’s Coronavirus Resource Center is available to help you understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19.

  1. Faegre Drinker works diligently to ensure accuracy and completeness. Given the rate at which orders appear, additional jurisdictions may have issued mask orders after the publication of this alert.

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