Masks are mandatory in L.A. What do you do if you head outside to exercise?

Andrew J. Campa
Signs posted along the Silver Lake Reservoir keep people moving in one direction May 4 to limit interaction and make it easier to maintain physical distancing.  (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

With Los Angeles city and county officials requiring face coverings for anyone going outside, joggers, runners and others itching to get outside and exercise are trying to figure out how to incorporate masks into their workouts.

Many said they would wear face coverings as required because it will help slow the spread of the coronavirus, even if they were resigned to yet another daily challenge.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti called the mask order a necessary step to eventually reopen more of the economy. Anybody who is outside and around others must wear a mask. Those in areas without other people — on solitary walks, for example — are not required to wear a mask but should have one with them and ready to put on, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

“Bring your mask with you whenever you leave your home,” Garcetti said. “That will help us get more freedoms.”

The mandate was another frustration for 35-year-old Beachwood Canyon resident Rabi Awssd, who was running down Beachwood Drive on Thursday afternoon with a black bandanna around his head. Awssd did not wear a mask on his roughly five-mile route through various trails from the Hollywood sign back to his home on Beachwood Drive.

“I can’t breathe with the mask when I’m working out,” Awssd said. “I can’t use it.”

With his gym closed, Awssd has had to adjust his fitness routine, which includes working out with large stones in the surrounding hillside that he described as “empty.”

Awssd said he’s not against facial coverings, however, and was adamant that whenever he goes to a store or a place people may gather, he always wears a mask.

“I believe in them and use them to keep everyone safe,” Awssd said, “but when I’m working out, I’m usually by myself and I always keep a distance from other runners out there.”

Elsewhere in Beachwood Canyon, 26-year-old Javi Chad-Friedman stepped out of his home with his headphones on and his face covering in his back pocket. After a block of uphill running, Chad-Friedman saw a group of nearby joggers and quickly put on his mask.

“I wear a mask, I do,” he said of his black and yellow facial covering that included the insignia of a friend’s band. “It’s just when you run or do physical exercise, it’s difficult, but as soon as I see anyone nearby, I put on my mask.”

Chad-Friedman wasn’t sure if he agreed with the idea of needing to don a facial covering immediately after exiting his home. To his understanding, the biggest threat was droplets from an infected person, which he didn’t believe he would be in danger of coming into contact with unless he were near another runner or cyclist.

“I think as long as you’re taking other precautions, like socially distancing and washing your hands, you’ll be fine,” he said. “I don’t think you need the mask, again, unless you’re close to another runner.”

Friends Karina Delgado, 43, and Jessica Gonzalez, 46, weren’t taking any chances on their run. They jogged around local trails and onto Beachwood Drive fully masked.

“I support what the mayor is doing,” Gonzalez said. “This is all about safety and making sure we avoid infections. Just because we’re not seeing the number of infections like in New York, people think we’re going to go back to some sort of normal.

“That’s not happening," she added. "We can’t go back to normal.”

As the pair stopped to stretch, two unmasked cyclists passed within 10 feet of them.

“I was going to say I’m not surprised, but I kind of am surprised that some people aren’t following rules,” Gonzalez said. “No one is saying this is easy, but the experts, like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, are saying we have to take precautions, and wearing a face mask is one of them.”

Delgado, a Panorama City resident, said she’s seen fatigue in her community and beyond in regards to masks and other safety measures.

“People are just tired and they don’t want to listen,” she said. “I’m not surprised, but I would hope they would care about other people. We’re all going to have to get through this.”

Where must you wear a face covering?

  • If you visit any retail business (except those in indoor malls, which are still closed), including those that are open only for curbside or in-store pickup.
  • If you exercise in your neighborhood or are on a trail, golf course or beach (where you must wear a face covering if you are out of the water and people are nearby).
  • If you ride on L.A. Department of Transportation transit buses, Metro buses or trains, or travel through Los Angeles International Airport.
  • The new guidelines on face coverings exempt children younger than 2 and people with certain disabilities.