Face Coverings

Stay Home/Work Safe Order

The Stay Home/Work Safe Order effective beginning at 11:59 p.m. April 29, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. on May 19 requires that all people 10 years or older must continue to wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in a public place, or patronizing essential services or reopened services, where it is difficult to maintain six feet of distance from others, such as when visiting a grocery store or pharmacy and/or working in areas that involve close proximity with other coworkers.

Employers that are essential services and reopened services must provide face cloth face coverings to employees who are working in an area or activity which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet separation from other individuals is not feasible.

Cloth face coverings could include homemade masks, scarfs, bandannas, or a handkerchief. The public should reserve medical grade masks and N95 respirators for first responders and health care workers. The public must continue social distancing while outside their home while performing essential activities, as outlined in the Mayor's Stay Home Work Safe Order.

Consistent with Executive Order GA-18 issued by Governor Greg Abbott, a civil or criminal penalty will not be imposed on persons who do not wear a cloth face covering, but they should consider the health and safety of their neighbors as they leave their homes for essential activities.

The best protection against COVID-19 is to stay home.

Metro Health reminds the public to reserve medical grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for first responders and health care workers

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and self-isolation when sick.

Businesses can download signage for employees and customers.

Wearing a Cloth Face Covering

Best Practices

When using cloth face coverings, the public should:

  • Wash their hands with soap and water before putting on your mask.
  • Make sure it covers their mouth and nose. It should fit snugly, but comfortably.
  • Not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth while wearing your mask.
  • When removing, avoid touching their face.
  • Wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after.
  • Remember to wash their mask. Cloth face coverings can go straight in the washing machine or can be washed by hand with soap and warm water.

How and When to Wear It

Face mask should fit snugly and cover nose and mouth.

Cloth face covering should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Face coverings do not need to be worn in the following circumstances:

  • When exercising outside or engaging in physical activity outside
  • While driving alone or with passengers who are part of the same household as the driver
  • When doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety, or security risk
  • While pumping gas or operating outdoor equipment
  • While in a building or activity that requires security surveillance or screening, for example, banks
  • When consuming food or drink


How to Use a Cloth Face Covering

Dr. Dawn Emerick outlines the proper technique for applying and removing cloth face coverings safely.

Make your own Face Covering

Information on how to make your own cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be found on the CDC website.


As of Monday, April 20, 2020, all San Antonio residents 10 years of age and older are required to wear a cloth face covering in public settings where it is difficult to keep six feet apart from others, such as grocery stores. Within this order, an exemption was added stating face coverings do not need to be worn when doing so poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk to the individual.

There are a number of medical reasons that an individual with a disability may have issues with wearing a face covering:

  • Breathing issues
  • Skin conditions
  • Sensory disabilities (such as Autism)
  • Mental health challenges

The cloth face covering order may pose questions for businesses on how to determine when an individual falls under the order’s exemption and how to approach a customer who is not wearing a face covering. The City of San Antonio, Disability Access Office (DAO) has provided the following guidance and information for businesses to address the non-wearing of face coverings and the provision of accommodations that may help people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions & Answers for Businesses

What is a public accommodation?

Title III of the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) categorizes public accommodations as privately owned, leased or operated facilities such as hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, etc. that provide goods or services to the public.

People with various types of disabilities may have difficulty complying with a business’ policy or procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a person’s disability makes following regular infection prevention guidelines impossible or dangerous, ensure access to measures that work for the individual. Accommodations and modifications to procedures are key to ensuring access to goods and services.

A customer has entered my business without a face covering. How do I know they fall under the provisions of individuals who are exempt under the Mayor’s order?

While the ADA has not provided any formal guidance for this situation, the City of San Antonio, Disability Access Office recommends asking the following questions to the customer:

  • Do you require an exemption to the Mayor’s cloth face covering order due to a disability, medical condition or mental health issue?
  • Would wearing the cloth face covering pose a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk to you?

If the customer answers ‘yes’ to either question, then allow the individual to proceed into your business. Businesses may not ask any additional information or require a doctor’s note about the disability or medical condition as this is private health information protected under the ADA and HIPPA. You may instruct the individual to continue to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet with other customers.

If the individual answers ‘no’ to either question,the business may ask the individual to put on a cloth face covering. If the individual does not comply, the business can ask the individual to leave the facility.

NOTE: Remember that not all disabilities or medical conditions are obvious. Do not assume by looking at a person that they will not require an accommodation.

Are there other accommodations that my business will need to provide during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Possibly. Many individuals with disabilities may have trouble complying with a business’ safety policy or procedure. A business must work with the individual to determine what accommodation or modification will work for them. Businesses should not ask any additional information or require a doctor’s note about the disability or medical condition as this is private health information protected under the ADA and HIPPA. Some examples of accommodations are:

  • Allow individuals with disabilities the opportunity to shop during ‘senior hour’ at grocery stores.
  • Allow for an area in stores for individuals with disabilities to wait in line and out of the heat, as many people with disabilities may not have the ability to self-regulate their body temperature.

Who can I contact for more information?

For questions related to the Mayor’s order or business requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact the COVID Hotline at 210.207.5779 or by email COVID-19@sanantonio.gov

For questions related to the provision of accommodations and modifications for individuals with disabilities, please contact the City of San Antonio, Disability Access Office at 210.207.7135 or DisabilityAccess@sanantonio.gov

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