City Face Covering Requirement FAQ - UPDATE!

The City of Tucson's ordinance requiring the use of face masks continues to be in place.
The ordinance states that every person in the City of Tucson over the age of five (5) is required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public setting where continuous physical distancing is difficult or impossible.

Adults accompanying minor children who are five (5) years of age or older shall use reasonable efforts to have children to wear face coverings when they are in a public setting.

Businesses whose employees interact with the public must require employees to wear face coverings.

This requirement is put in place by the Mayor and Council as Ordinance Number 11767  and under the City's Charter authority, granted by the Arizona Constitution.

Please continue reading the FAQ's below to learn more.


Frequently Asked Questions - Update 3/26/21


What is the impact of Governor's new Executive Order?

The City’s face covering requirements, as adopted by the Mayor and Council with Ordinance No. 11767 on June 30, 2020, remain in effect despite the Governor’s EO.

The City’s ordinance, by its own terms, remains in effect until such time that the state of emergency relating to COVID is declared at an end; or until the Mayor and Council modify or rescind it. Neither of those things has happened. In fact, the Governor’s EO reinforces that the state of emergency continues in effect.


What authority do the Mayor and Council have to enact this ordinance?

The City’s Ordinance was adopted pursuant to specific, express authority in the Tucson Charter under which the Mayor and Council have legislative authority to enact measures that are necessary or expedient to prevent the spread of infectious disease in our community.

The Arizona statute, referenced in the Governor’s EO, does not give him the authority to strip away local authority to enact measures expressly authorized by our Charter.


How does the Governor's Executive Order impact private businesses?

In the Governor's EO, he was careful to preserve the rights of private business to enforce their own COVID mitigation requirements (masks, physical distancing, etc.), and to deny service to patrons who do not comply with the businesses’ requirements.


How does this impact operations at City buildings and public transit?

The Governor’s EO specifically left in place the authority of local jurisdictions to maintain and enforce their mitigation requirements that apply to their public buildings and on public transportation.

This means that prior requirements imposed for use of public transit, or for entry into City buildings, including those leased to other parties, remain in place.


How does the EO impact the 3rd Party Delivery App Ordinance? 

As part of the City’s efforts to support and protect local restaurants, the Mayor and Council adopted an ordinance capping the fees the 3d party delivery services can charge to restaurants. That ordinance is now no longer applicable, at least with respect to the cap on fees, because by its own terms it continued in effect only while COVID-related restrictions remain in place on dine-in service at restaurants.

he Governor has now lifted all of those restrictions. As a result, the cap on fees that was designed to protect local restaurants is no longer in effect.


What is a face covering?

  • A face covering is any well-secured fiber or cloth (like a bandana, mask, or scarf) that covers your nose and mouth.
  • It cannot be a mask that incorporates a one-way valve.

Why do we need to wear face coverings?

  • Cloth face coverings may prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing, or coughing. If everyone wears a cloth face covering when out in public, such as going to the grocery store, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can be reduced for the community.
  • Since people may spread the virus before symptoms start, or even if people never have symptoms, wearing a cloth face covering may protect others around you. Face coverings worn by others may protect you from getting the virus from people carrying the virus.

Who must wear a face covering?

  • Every person over the age of five (5) must wear a face covering when outside their home if unable to maintain continuous physical distancing, meaning at least 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Examples include walking on a busy street, going to pharmacies and grocery stores, or going to the doctor.
  • You must wear a face covering at all times when riding public transportation even if you can maintain distance from others.
  • If you live in a facility that has shared kitchens, bathrooms, or other common spaces, wear a face covering when you leave your apartment or room.
  • People who are sick should wear a face covering while at home if they cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, and at all times whenever they leave home.

Do children need to wear a face covering?

  • Children over the age of  five (5) should wear a face covering.
  • Adult caretakers accompanying children who are five (5) years of age or older should make reasonable efforts to have the children wear face coverings when they are in a public setting. They should not be overly concerned with any enforcement actions being taken against them if children are reluctant to wear or remove face coverings.
  • Small children are more likely to touch their face covering, so caretakers should wash children’s hands or apply hand sanitizer often.

I have a health problem that makes it hard for me to wear a face covering. Do I still need to wear one?

  • An exemption is provided in the ordinance for any person who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition, mental health condition or developmental disability, or who is unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • A person who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition is not required to produce medical documentation of the condition, provided that an employer may require such documentation from an employee in accordance with state and federal law.
  • If you have a health issue that makes you unable to tolerate a face covering, you do not need to wear one.
  • This makes practicing physical distancing and hand hygiene even more essential.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I am exercising?

  • No, persons exercising outdoors, or while walking or exercising with other persons of the same household, as long as physical distancing from others is maintained do not have to wear a face covering.
  • Persons are not expected to wear a mask while swimming. Physical distancing should be adhered to as much as possible in pool settings.
  • Persons excercising indoors must wear a face covering when it is difficult or impossible to maintain physical distancing.

What do I do if I go out to eat?

  • Restaurant patrons do not have to wear a mask when they are eating or drinking at their table or seating area.
  • Restaurants should be making every effort to provide physical distancing in their seating areas.

When do workers need to wear a face covering?

  • Workers must wear a face covering at work if they cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Employers are strongly encouraged to provide face coverings to employees who are unable to obtain one.
  • Your employer may have additional requirements as to when a face covering, or other protection, is needed.

I had COVID-19 but am better now. Do I still need to wear a face covering?

  • Yes. The City of Tucson requirement to wear a face covering applies even if you had COVID-19 and have recovered.
  • The scientific evidence is unclear at this time if having recovered from COVID-19 provides future immunity.  Why chance it?

What type of face covering is better — paper/ fiber / or cloth?

  • Paper, fiber, or cloth face coverings are fine, as long as the mask covers your nose and mouth. 
  • The goal is to stop the spread of droplets from the nose and mouth.
  • Paper or simple surgical/medical masks are designed for one-time use.

How often do I need to wash my face covering?

  • If you are using a cloth face covering, we recommend washing once a day by hand or machine using hot water and detergent.
  • The face covering should be fully dry before using.
  • People should try to have a few face coverings so they can rotate for washing.

How long can I use a paper face covering?

  • You can continue to use a paper face covering until it becomes damaged, dirty or wet.

Are there precautions I should take with my face covering?

  • Using face coverings incorrectly can spread germs. For this reason, it is important to properly wear, store and dispose of face coverings by doing the following:
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, every time you put on and take off your face covering. If you are unable to clean your hands, be very careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
    • Do not put face coverings where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as countertops or your kitchen table.
    • Do not throw your face covering loose in a bag or backpack. Keep a plastic bag with you to store your face covering if you will be taking it off when outside your home.
    • Properly dispose of used paper face coverings in the garbage. Do not throw single-use face coverings or disposable gloves on the street.

How will this requirement be enforced?

  • Enforcement of this requirement will focus on educating and working to promote the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19.
  • A person violating this requirement shall be notified of the provisions of the requirement and given an opportunity to comply.

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