The quick answer to this question is "yes," but with "checks and balances" in place. You see, the Federal government has great confidence in its' people to manage themselves especially when it comes to items of public safety, which includes the health and welfare of individual states. So, the Federal government grants what is called "police powers" to each state through the 10th Amendment inside the Bill of Rights.

So, when we speak of the "Government" forcing face mask use in public, what we really are talking about are the individual state Police Powers through the 10th Amendment of our U.S. Constitution, in combination with any state laws that support that federal power. 

Thus, a global pandemic definitely can qualify as a "national emergency," granting police powers to each state to regulate themselves for protection against any pandemic. 

How Does This Apply To California?

In March of this year (2020), California Governor Gavin Newsom made a requirement that all residents of California must wear a face mask while in a public place where you cannot safely perform social distancing. Thus, this mainly applies to indoor spaces like grocery stores and other businesses. The only exception is if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face mask, or you are under two years of age, or if you are dining in a restaurant. 

As explained above, Governor Newsom gets the power to do this from the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and through the California legislative branch under what is called the California Emergency Services Act of 1970, and then California Governor, Ronald Regan, signed that law into power in March 1970.

But, this enforcement cannot go on forever without valid science backing up the requirement of face masks. Remember, there are "checks and balances" in place. So, the moment the science or data fails, then lawsuits can be heard to challenge the public face mask-wearing requirement. So, Governor Newsom's emergency powers under the 10th Amendment don’t last indefinitely. In fact, according to the California Emergency Services Act: “The governor shall proclaim the termination of a state of emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant. All of the powers granted the governor by this chapter … shall terminate when the state of emergency has been terminated.”

So, as of the writing of this post, and the video above, it remains to be seen how the pandemic affects us all, and how long the science will hold up to the effectiveness of wearing a face mask. 

If you have further questions or concerns, and you would like to speak to me for free regarding your injury case, you can call me direct at (619) 813-7955. I will be more than happy to point you in the right direction for your injury case. Stay strong, Attorney Mark Blane.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney