Public Health Order Frequently Asked Questions

Last content update: 03/29/2023

Public Health Order of March 24, 2023

    No. Face Masks are not required in break rooms and administrative offices that are only used by employees or staff and are not used for the purpose of patient care. 

    Yes.  The Order does not prohibit individual businesses and governmental entities that operate health care facilities from deciding to create policies that require masking in additional locations or settings or at additional times of year. However, Health Care Facilities operating in Santa Clara County may not create policies that are less strict than those described in this Order. The Health Officer strongly recommends that Health Care Facilities monitor local and internal data that indicate circulating levels of respiratory viruses and impact to the facilities and institute internal policies that require masking at times outside the Designated Winter Respiratory Virus Period when local or institutional data suggest high risk to patients or employees.  For data regarding the County’s wastewater surveillance, visit https://covid19.sccgov.org/dashboard-wastewater.  

    Face Masks are an important tool for stopping the spread of respiratory viruses and anyone who is able to wear a Face Mask safely must do so when in a Patient Care Area of a Healthcare Care Delivery Facility during the Designated Winter Respiratory Virus Period.  However, where Face Masks are required, there are exemptions for persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a Face Mask, and for persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.

    The Health Officer’s Order makes no changes to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, and the ADA remains in full force countywide. Businesses and public entities must comply with their usual ADA obligations. Visit https://www.ada.gov/resources/title-iii-primer/ for further information on ADA requirements for businesses.
     

    Surgical masks, KN95, KF94, and N95 masks are all acceptable.  Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, bandanas, turtlenecks, collars, cloth mask, or any masks that have an unfiltered one-way exhaust valve do not qualify as acceptable Face Masks for use in Patient Care Areas of Health Care Delivery Facilities. 

    Public Health Order of September 12, 2022

      Yes.  Although the Health Officer strongly recommends that people remain masked at all times in higher-risk settings, the Order does allow people to remove their face coverings while they are actively eating or drinking. The Order does not prohibit the use of breakrooms to eat, but the Health Officer strongly recommends that facilities put protocols in place to prohibit or limit gathering in breakrooms or any other indoor space to eat, as substantial transmission has been observed in breakrooms in the past.

      Access and Functional Needs

        Yes. The Health Officer’s Order makes no changes to ADA requirements, and the ADA remains in full force countywide. Businesses and public entities must comply with their usual ADA obligations, even if they are making changes to their facilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit here for further information on ADA requirements for businesses.

        Some drop-in sites may be able to accommodate wheelchair vans and other adapted vehicles.  You should contact those drop-in sites directly before planning your visit.

        Some of the testing and vaccination drop-in sites may be accessible for people with disabilities and those with other access or functional needs.  Please contact those drop-in sites directly before planning your visit.

        Please see the County’s testing website and this flowchart for directions on how to secure transportation to a testing site. Similarly, please visit the County’s COVID-19 vaccine website for information about how to secure free door-to-door transportation to your vaccination appointment.  If you still have further questions, please contact the County’s Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at [email protected].

        The County is taking many steps to ensure that its communications are accessible to every member of the community. The Public Health Department’s entire COVID-19 website is fully translated into five different languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog), and postings include Alt Text functionality. The public may also use 711 for Hearing and Speech Relay Service.  The County has regularly conducted online presentations to share important information in a video-based format, and video press conferences include real-time ASL interpretation. The County has also designed signs, flyers, and posters that include informative graphics alongside text to ensure that they are as comprehensible as possible to all.

        Yes. If you have an access or functional need and require the County’s COVID-19 materials in an accessible format, please contact the Access and Functional Needs Coordinator at [email protected] for assistance.

        No. Businesses should not require you to present a doctor’s note once you explain that you cannot wear a face covering for medical or disability-related reasons. Please see the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings for more information.

        If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for a medical or disability-related reason, retailers may not deny entry to that customer just because they are not wearing a face covering. But retailers are strongly encouraged to offer accommodations to these customers so that they can access the retailer’s services without entering the business facility. Accommodations may include things like offering delivery services, or accepting customers’ shopping lists over the phone or at curbside and bringing the items outside to the customer so they don’t need to enter the store.

        Delivery services offered by retail and grocery stores are good options for people who are not comfortable shopping in person. There are also free resources, like helpinghands.community, a community-based non-profit that provides delivery and other support services.

        Face coverings are an important tool for stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are not vaccinated OR vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose, and anyone who is able to wear a face covering safely must do so when required by the State’s Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings.  However, where face coverings are required, there are exemptions for persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering (including people who would be unable to remove a face covering without assistance), and for persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired.

        The following resources are available to people with questions related to access and functional needs:

        To report a business operating in violation of the ADA, please contact the city in which the business is located.

        Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, and it is especially vital for people with access and functional needs who may need additional preparations to stay safe during an emergency. All County residents are encouraged to sign up for notifications, which is a free and easy way to get emergency alerts sent directly to your cell phone or mobile device, landline, or email. You can sign up for AlertSCC notifications here. In addition, the County Office of Emergency Management’s website has resources to help all County residents design a disaster safety plan for their families and loved ones. The following are more specific preparedness guides for people with access and functional needs:

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