Washington Face Mask Mandate
On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee announced a statewide mandate requiring face masks to be worn in public. The mandate is an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19. This legal requirement will go into effect on Friday, June 26, 2020 and will apply statewide to individuals and businesses.
Masks will not be required outdoors when people can stay more than 6 feet apart from each other, while indoors at home with others or while alone in a vehicle. Children under 5 are exempt from the mandate, however, it is recommended that kids between the ages of 3 and 5 wear facial coverings when possible. People who cannot wear a mask for a medical reason or having a hearing impairment are also exempt from the mandate. You can remove your mask when you are eating at a restaurant or when you are engaged in a recreational activity either alone or with other members of your household.
In Yakima County, Governor Inslee has put in place additional requirements. These additional requirements include preventing specific types of businesses from operating and requires businesses to prevent entry unless customers are wearing face coverings. Businesses in Yakima County could face sanctions or loss of their business licenses if they don’t comply.
King County has had a face mask mandate in place since May 18, 2020. Since that time residents of King County have been strongly urged to wear face coverings in stores that sell food and beverages, retail stores, restaurants and on public transportation. King County does not impose a criminal, civil or financial penalty for failing to wear a face covering.
Governor Inslee has indicated that violations of the new statewide mandate could incur simple misdemeanor charges but he prefers not to enforce the mandate with criminal action. A simple misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, if a person is found in violation of the Yakima County mandate, they could face a gross misdemeanor charge. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. This requirement will likely stay in place until a vaccine is found or some other data indicates face masks are unnecessary or ineffective.
In the event the Governor decides to enforce this mandate with criminal charges for violators, it is important to know your rights. You should contact a criminal defense attorney to understand your options. Additionally, you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away if you have been cited or arrested by a law enforcement officer. This is information only and is not legal advice. Contact the knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Fury Duarte for a legal consultation.