A county employee demonstrates a bandana used as a makeshift face covering. Courtesy County News Center

Businesses still open and serving the public scrambled Friday to comply with San Diego County’s new health order requiring all employees who interact with the public to wear facial coverings.

Pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses have until midnight on Friday to comply.

The California Grocers Association sought guidance from County officials on how grocery stores are supposed to acquire face masks for their employees with such short notice,.

“The safety of our employees and customers is always our first priority, and even more so during this health crisis,” said Ron Fong, president and CEO of the association. “With such short notice given by San Diego County, grocery companies will be scrambling to be in compliance by Saturday’s deadline.

“We look forward to hearing from the County quickly on how it will support grocers securing appropriate face coverings for all its workers by April 4,” said Fong.

The county’s new public health orders also shut down park and beach parking lots throughout the region to limit access to local residents who can walk there.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten also said that all group activities such as basketball and volleyball were prohibited. Activities such as walking, hiking and bike-riding will still be permitted.

Further orders include businesses remaining open that serve the public must now post social distancing and sanitization guidelines near their entrance by the end of the day Tuesday, and a recommendation that anyone who leaves their home for any essential purpose should wear a facial covering — a bandana, scarf or homemade mask — while maintaining social distancing. These coverings should not be medical-grade masks, officials said.

The order for certain workers to wear face covering, and the recommendation that all San Diego residents wear them when leaving their home, comes after health experts reversed their position on the value of face masks.

Previously, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not recommend wearing a mask, unless a person was sick. But the CDC has reviewed this as new data showed that up to 25 percent of infected people may not have symptoms, but could be transmitting the virus.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.