General Health Guidelines for the Public and Employers

COVID-19 is more likely to spread when more people are out in the community. It is very important to use caution and protect yourself and others when you are in public and at work.

What you need to know about COVID-19 testing and symptoms

If you have one or more symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested. To find a testing location near you.

Symptoms of COVID-19:

Hygiene practices you should follow

Good hygiene practices are some of the best ways to fight any illness. This includes COVID-19. You should follow normal hygiene practices when you are at work and at home.

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water. If you do not have soap and water, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Do not use your hands.
  • Do not shake hands or touch other people. Use other ways to greet people without touching.
  • Try not to touch surfaces many people touch.

Wash your hands:

  • After you cough or sneeze.
  • After you use the restroom.
  • Before you eat or make food.
  • After you touch animals or pets.
  • Before and after you care for another person who needs help, such as a child.
  • Before and after your work shifts.
  • Before and after you take breaks at work.
  • After you put on, touch, or take off a cloth face covering.

Hand sanitizer:

  • Children younger than 6 years old should not use hand sanitizer without adult supervision.
  • Always store hand sanitizer out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep hand sanitizers away from fire or flame.

When do you need to practice physical distancing (also called social distancing)?

  • COVID-19 is most easily spread by close contact between people.
  • You should try to practice physical distancing as much as you can. This means you should stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) away from other people when you are in public or at work if possible.

When should you wear a face covering?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are sick.

  • It is important for everyone to wear a cloth face covering when they can’t practice physical distancing. Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help stop respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.
  • When you wear a face covering, your risk of getting sick with COVID-19 is decreased. Wearing a face covering also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • You should wear a cloth face covering if you are in close contact with someone who is at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do not use cloth face coverings on children younger than age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
  • All students, employees, and visitors in the K-12 public education sector must wear a face covering when they are in school or on school property (including buses), except as outlined in the public health order or the “exceptions to face coverings in K-12 education sector” section below. The face covering mandate also applies to anyone entering a school or on school property. For more information about the public health order requiring face coverings in K-12 schools visit

Exceptions to face coverings in K-12 education sector

Exceptions to the public health order requiring face coverings for K-12 may be changed based on the spread of the virus in the community.

Students, employees, and visitors are not required to wear face coverings when:

  • Individuals are outdoors and can stay 6 feet away from others.
    • Individuals are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 when they are outdoors. However, there is still a risk of exposure if people are in close contact. To reduce this risk when individuals are not required to wear face coverings, schools should try to keep the same groups of students together as much as possible (cohorts), practice physical distancing as much as possible, and have students and employees wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after recess. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol may be used.
  • Individuals are eating or drinking and can stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Individuals who are younger than 3 years of age.
  • Individuals have a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents him or her from wearing a face covering.
  • Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without help.
  • Seeing a person’s mouth is essential for communication such as for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or when students and teachers are in speech therapy.
  • Individuals who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 accommodation that would exempt him or her wearing a face covering.
  • A face covering must be temporarily removed to provide or receive a service involving the person’s nose or face, such as speech therapy.
  • Individuals are participating in a school-sponsored activity or physical education class and are unable to reasonably participate while wearing a mask.
    • Check each participant in school sponsored activities for symptoms before participating.
    • Ask participants if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 2 weeks (14 days).
    • Take participants’ temperature if you can.