Unmasking the Laws Behind Mask Requirements
2020 has been full of surprises and tragedies, both of which are directly linked to COVID-19. As a result, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order mandating people to wear masks or cloth face coverings in the following situations:
- Going outside their home
- Working in customer-facing industries
- Working in offices, factories or any group setting
- If they are a doctor, nurse, and other health care professional
But many people wonder if these orders are legal. Does the Constitution allow states to obtain this level of authority? The answer is yes. It is constitutional for states to require masks.
The 10th Amendment & COVID-19
The 10th Amendment of the US Constitution states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
This amendment intends to enhance the balance of power between state and federal governments. Any power not listed in the Constitution is left to the states. In the case of COVID-19, which no one prepared for and anticipated, state governments have the power to require residents to wear masks, as well as:
- Order quarantines
- Order people who are sick with a quarantinable communicable disease to be isolated from healthy people
- Establish business restrictions
- Allow police enforcement of quarantine and public health orders
- Fine people who violate mask requirements, and impose legal penalties as needed
We understand how unusual and uncomfortable wearing a mask can be, especially if you are required by your workplace to wear one for hours on end. Further, it can be difficult to handle the hot summer heat with a mask on, but by complying with California’s mask order, you are saving lives.
It’s worth noting that certain people are exempt from following the mask order. They include:
- Children under 2 years old
- Anyone with respiratory issues where it would impede their breathing
- Anyone unable to remove the mask without help
- Anyone with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that does not allow them to wear a mask
At The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch, our attorney is deeply aware of this “rude awakening” for many California residents and is readily available to help give you some peace of mind. If you have further questions regarding the lawfulness of mask requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact (559) 484-2112 to get clarifying answers.