Gov. Inslee issues statewide proclamation requiring Washington residents to wear masks

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Inslee has issued a statewide proclamation mandating the use of face masks in Washington, effective Friday.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise statewide.

“There’s no room in the hospitals,” Inslee said, in response to cases in Yakima County, which potentially has the highest rate of infection on the west coast. 

Starting Friday, anyone entering a public space will be required to wear a face covering. That includes while standing in line, using public transportation, or spending time in a crowded outdoor area. Violators could be faced with a misdemeanor.

Those spending time alone outdoors will not be required to wear a mask, as long as social distancing is maintained.

Inslee defined ‘face covering’ as anything that covers the mouth and nose.

The mandate applies to anyone above the age of 5. Inslee said exceptions can be made for people whose health could be impacted. Health officials say children two or younger should not wear a mask.

Inslee announced a proclamation Saturday requiring the use of face coverings in Yakima County. Beginning Wednesday, business owners in Yakima will be legally required to turn away customers who aren’t wearing a mask.

READ: ‘No mask, no service’: Gov. Inslee announces proclamation requiring Yakima Co residents to wear masks

“Until a vaccine is developed, this really is going to be our best defense,” said Inslee. 

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