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Mask Guidance

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Governor Inslee issues statewide order directing businesses to require and enforce the use of face coverings by all customers or clients.

Mask Requirements

Governor Inslee issues statewide order directing businesses to require and enforce the use of face coverings by all customers or clients

Face coverings are now required statewide in all public spaces because they are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with 6 feet of physical distance.

Face Covering and Mask Guidance

Businesses with questions about the face covering orders or any other Safe Start related questions can contact the state’s Business Response Center.

Customers who are concerned that a business is not adequately enforcing the face mask order or other Safe Start requirements can submit an anonymous complaint here.

Additional information and commonly asked questions is available at www.coronavirus.wa.gov/masks and www.doh.wa.gov/masks. If you’re an employer and have questions about the order regarding face coverings for employees, visit the state Department of Labor & Industries common questions page.

On July 1, 2020, Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) Health Officer, Dr. Amy Person issued a local health officer directive for businesses to require the public to use face coverings or refuse service to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The directive took effect on July 6, 2020.

No individual may enter a place of business, whether the business is operating indoors or outdoors, without first donning a face covering, unless the individual does so under circumstances expressly exempted from this requirement under Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03

Nothing in this Directive reduces or eliminates the requirements imposed by Directives and Orders from the Local Health Officer, Governor, or other regulatory local, state, or federal agency including employer specific directives from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

All members of the public are required by law to comply with this order, and violaters may be subject to penalties pursuant to RCW 70.05.120(4) and WAC 246-100-070(3).

ADDITIONALLY, in furtherance of this directive and for general awareness: Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03, issued on June 24, 2020, found here, is incorporated by reference, may be amended as is necessary, and all such amendments are also incorporated by reference

This Directive shall be in effect until rescinded or superseded by subsequent order of the Local Health Officer.

DOWNLOAD SIGNAGE – MASKS REQUIRED (Spanish)

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Learn more about protecting yourself and others

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Cloth Face Coverings

About Cloth Face Coverings

What kinds of masks are OK to Use?

pile of masks

A cloth face covering is anything from a scarf or bandanna to a sewn mask with ties or straps that go around your head or behind your ears. These types of face coverings are appropriate in public settings, although more protective coverings, such as masks or respirators may be required in the workplace.

Medical grade masks, surgical masks, and N95 respirators are needed for healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front lines working to protect our communities. Unfortunately, these masks are in short supply.

How to wear a mask

According to CDC, cloth face coverings should—

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

For information about helping children to wear a mask, see this article from the Washington State Department of Health.

How to use a mask safely

Cloth face masks must be worn properly to avoid contaminating the hands or face of the user.

  • Before putting on a mask and after removing a mask, an individual should clean their hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Change masks when moist and wash after use.
  • While in use, avoid touching the mask. Worn masks may be contaminated with infectious agents

Where can I find a cloth face covering?

More and more retailers are selling cloth face coverings online and in stores. Visit the Washington Mask Challenge for information. The CDC has instructions on how to make no-sew masks. The website also provides information on how to make and clean masks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the statewide requirement apply?

In indoor public settings, including:

  • Inside of or in line to enter any indoor public space
  • Seeking health care services including,but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank; and
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation
  • Outdoors and unable to keep six feet away from others not in their household

What about at work?

In the workplace, employees are required to wear face coverings at work, as required by the Department of Labor & Industries Coronavirus Hazard Considerations for Employers. Workplace health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 are adopted and enforced by the Department of Labor & Industries. See the Department of Labor & Industries COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements for more information.

What about K-12 schools?

In schools, teachers, visitors, volunteers and students are required to wear face coverings consistent with the Governor’s Proclamation 20-09.2 Phased Reopening of K-12 Schools, the K-12 Schools Summer Guidance and K-12 Fall 2020-2021 Guidance, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide.

A face shield with a drape can be used by people with developmental, behavioral, or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Face shields may also be used by children in childcare, day camp, and K-12 settings. If used, face shields should extend below the chin, to the ears, and have no gap at the forehead. The addition of a drape may offer more protection.

What about colleges and dorms?

DOH is working on finalizing guidance for higher education institutions. Face coverings will be required in common areas, including cafeterias except while eating. Face coverings will not be required in closed dorm rooms.

What about physical and behavioral health facilities, and long-term care facilities?

DOH’s public health order is focused on areas that are generally accessible to the public. Right now, many of these facilities remain closed to visitors. Staff at these facilities are required to wear face coverings consistent with L&I’s Safety and Health requirements. For residents, patients, and visitors, face covering requirements will be determined by the medical director of medical facilities. For residents and visitors to long-term care facilities, we are currently working with the providers on formalizing a Safe Start Restart Plan for these facilities.

A face shield with a drape can be used by people with developmental, behavioral, or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Face shields may also be used by children in childcare, day camp, and K-12 settings.

What about child care?

Children and youth age five years or older must wear cloth face coverings at child care, preschool, or day camp when indoors. Children age two to four years may wear cloth face coverings.

A face shield with a drape can be used by people with developmental, behavioral, or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Face shields may also be used by children in childcare, day camp, and K-12 settings.

What about correctional facilities?

DOH’s public health order is focused on areas that are generally accessible to the public. Staff at correctional facilities are required to wear face coverings consistent with L&I’s Safety and Health requirements. The Department of Corrections is requiring and providing face coverings for incarcerated individuals in state facilities. We believe everyone should be wearing face coverings and this is the expectation in correctional settings including jails and juvenile correctional facilities.

Why Is It Important to Wear Cloth Face Coverings?

CDC recommends that people cover their noses and mouths with a cloth face covering
to prevent spreading COVID-19 in public settings where it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing measures (staying six feet apart).

Researchers are finding that many people who have COVID-19 do not have any symptoms (they are asymptomatic) but are able to spread the virus without knowing it. When a face covering is worn by someone who is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can help prevent the spread of infection to others. A face covering can help by blocking infectious droplets that spread when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks.

Why is it important to wear face coverings now when it wasn’t encouraged before?

There is a lot of confusion about why it is important to wear masks now when it wasn’t previously encouraged. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public was asked to avoid wearing medical-grade masks. Medical grade masks like surgical masks and N95 masks are necessary pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and should be preserved for that use—to ensure healthcare workers’ safety. The public was asked to avoid using these critical supplies.

More information is now available about how COVID-19 spreads, including that individuals who are asymptomatic can spread the virus. People are asked to wear cloth face coverings in public to avoid spreading the virus to others, because they may have the virus without knowing it. This is an important action we all can take to prevent a second wave of new COVID-19 infections and help businesses remain open during this phased approach to reopen Washington.

Does Everyone Have to Wear a Face Covering?

Some are not able to wear face masks for specific health-related reasons; this includes the following:

 

  • It is encouraged to have children ages 3-5 wear a covering if possible. In no case should children under two years of age wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation.
  • Any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face covering
  • Any individual who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication or an individual who is communicating with a person who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication
  • Any individual who has been told by a medical professional that wearing a face covering may pose a health risk to that individual
  • Any individual who has trouble breathing, is unconscious or unable to remove the face covering without help
  • A face shield with a drape can be used by people with developmental, behavioral, or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering. Face shields may also be used by children in childcare, day camp, and K-12 settings.