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Masks mandatory starting Friday

Governor: 'Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses'

Series: Coronavirus | Story 230

Last updated 6/23/2020 at 5:37pm

Brian Soergel

Christine Sexton wears a face mask at the farmers market in Edmonds.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman on Tuesday, June 23, announced a statewide mandatory face covering order that will take effect Friday, June 26.

In a news conference and subsequent news release, Inslee said the order comes after a Saturday announcement of a mandatory mask proclamation for Yakima County starting this week. The order was in response to reports of increasing case counts and a potential overwhelming of the county's health care system.

Every Washingtonian must wear a facial covering when in a public space, as mandated by the public health order signed by Wiesman. This includes both indoor and outdoor public spaces.

Locally, that means those taking part in the vehicle-free Main Street event this weekend should cover up.

As with previous orders, there will be specific exemptions for those who may be adversely impacted by wearing a facial covering. These exemptions include those with certain medical conditions and children under the age of two, who should not wear a face covering. Children aged two, three and four are encouraged, but not required, to wear a face covering in public with the assistance and supervision of an adult.

In addition, individuals may remove face coverings under certain circumstances, including while eating or drinking at a restaurant; while communicating with a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing; and while outdoors in public areas, provided that a distance of six feet is maintained from people who are not members of their household.

The order is in addition to the other guidelines counties must follow in each phase of reopening. Physical distancing, appropriate and regular sanitation actions and other requirements are still expected from Washingtonians and businesses. Businesses are already required to adopt face coverings or more protective requirements for their employees. In cases where local officials or other agencies have also adopted face covering requirements, the more protective requirement must be followed.

Residents of Yakima County must wear face coverings in public and businesses must require customers and clients to wear masks to operate, and may not serve anyone who enters their business without a face covering, with some limited exceptions.

After subsequent reports of cases increasing in additional counties, the governor and Wiesman extended the face-covering requirement today to include the entire state of Washington.

"As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us," Inslee said.

"Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses."


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