Facial Coverings


Santa Barbara County follows the State Guidance for the Use of Face Masks.

Updates effective April 3, 2023:

Masks are especially important in settings where vulnerable people are residing or being cared for, and increasingly important as the risk for transmission increases in the community. Health care facilities and other high-risk setting operators should develop and implement their own facility-specific plans based on their community, patient population, and other facility considerations incorporating CDPH and CDC recommendations.

Regardless of the COVID-19 community levels, CDPH recommends: 

  • Wear a mask around others if you have respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, runny nose, and/or sore throat)
  • Consider wearing a mask in indoor areas of public transportation (such as in airplanes, trains, buses, ferries) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, and seaports).  This is increasingly important as the risk for transmission increases in the community.
  • When choosing to wear a mask, ensure your mask provides the best fit and filtration (respirators like N95, KN95 and KN94 are best).
  • If you’ve had a significant exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, wear a mask for 10 days.

*Those that are vulnerable include the unvaccinated, those that are immunocompromised, have certain disabilities, or have underlying health conditions, and those at risk of severe illness of death if they are infected with COVID-19.  Such persons should consider taking extra precautions.

**High-risk settings include:

  • Healthcare Settings
  • Long Term Care SEttings & Adult and Senior Care Facilities
  • Homeless shelters, Emergency shelters and cooling and heating centers
  • State and local correctional facilities and detention centers

Facilities that are high-risk settings should make respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit or surgical masks available to any residents and staff who would like to use them.

In workplaces, employers and employees are subject to either the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) PDF Standard and should consult those regulations for additional applicable requirements. In certain healthcare situations or settings and other covered facilities, services and operations, surgical masks (or higher filtration masks) are required.

Finally, no person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a venue or business (including schools or childcare), unless wearing a mask would pose a safety hazard.  All businesses and venue operators are encouraged to improve ventilation and air quality in their facility to prevent airborne respiratory infections and improve indoor air quality.

Local health jurisdictions and entities can implement additional requirements that go beyond this statewide guidance based on local circumstances. 

The following individuals should not wear masks:
  • Persons younger than two years old. Very young children must not wear a mask because of the risk of suffocation.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a mask could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.
  • Persons for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
These public health recommendations will be updated as CDPH continues to assess conditions on an ongoing basis.  If the CDC revises definitions of the COVID-19 Community Levels, CDPH will reassess these recommendations as well.