SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties have announced requirements to wear face coverings in public to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The orders, which are in effect immediately and will be enforced in all four counties starting Wednesday, require people to wear masks covering the face and mouth when outside of their homes while performing essential needs, when using public transportation and for workers at essential businesses. Masks are also required while waiting in line to enter essential businesses or while waiting for public transit.

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The counties join Sonoma County and the City of Fremont among Bay Area jurisdictions requiring face coverings in public.

“As we look to a time where we can begin to ease the Stay Home Order, we know that face coverings will be part of that future – and we want San Franciscans to become more comfortable with this new normal,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We know it will take some time to get used to, but it will help save lives.”

“We now know that a significant number of people with COVID-19 lack symptoms, or become infectious before they start showing symptoms,” Contra Costa County health officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement from his county. “That is why we all need to start wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where it’s sometimes hard to maintain physical distancing, such as standing in line at the store.”

The orders said cloth face coverings, including t-shirts, bandanas and neck gaiters, are acceptable. Members of the public are being asked to refrain from purchasing N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) due to shortages for medical professionals.

Exceptions apply to children 12 and younger, people who are exercising outdoors, and people who are in cars by themselves or with members of the same household. Masks for children under 2 are not recommended due to the risk of suffocation.

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While Santa Clara County didn’t issue a mandate requiring face coverings, they were recommended.

“Jurisdictions around the Bay Area are unified in the recognition that face coverings are a very important tool in breaking the chains of transmission. Some jurisdictions may use a legal Health Officer Order while others may use guidance or recommendations to achieve the same goals,” read the statement issued by Santa Clara County Health officials. “Violating a Health Officer order is a crime, and local law enforcement is charged with enforcement of those orders. The Public Health Department is mindful that enforcement resources are limited. Our community has been active in following past guidance provided by the Health Officer and the Public Health Department and we anticipate significant voluntary compliance with this recommendation.”

“Today’s the day,” said Sean Stuckley at the True Value Hardware store in Larkfield. “Got to have them in stock, you know we can’t let anybody in the store without a mask on. So everybody’s doing what they can. T-shirts, bandannas, these masks do the trick.”

For Stuckley and everyone in Sonoma County, the coronavirus is just the latest disaster and yet another shortage.

“So we’re having to get creative with where we are looking for stuff, and the way we are finding stuff,”  Stuckley says. “I actually had to go through one of my military surplus suppliers to find the masks.”

Health officials stressed that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and following the shelter-in-place order in effect throughout the Bay Area.

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Wilson Walker contributed to this story.