Businesses in Washington are now required to refuse service to customers who don’t wear facial coverings, under a statewide order that took effect Tuesday and was issued in response to a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases.
Governor Jay Inslee announced the new mandate last week that prohibits allowing a customer to enter a business, or conducting business with a customer if they are not wearing a facial covering in any public space, indoors our outdoors.
He says he wants to avoid having to roll back economic reopenings, as some other states have done in the face of rising cases.
Violations are a gross misdemeanor and businesses risk fines and losing their business license if they don’t comply, though the governor’s office says they want to focus on education and voluntary compliance.
Exemptions exist for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, those who have medical conditions that preclude them from wearing a mask and children age 5 and younger. And people engaged in recreation alone or with household members and those eating out at restaurants don’t have to wear masks as long as they are properly distanced from others.
A conservative think tank has already filed a lawsuit against the order questioning the governor’s authority. (AP)