Washington issues statewide facial covering requirement


Some counties have seen a coronavirus spike in recent weeks

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – A statewide public health order is requiring people in Washington state to wear facial coverings in most indoor and outdoor public settings.

A separate proclamation requires even more stringent requirements on Yakima County, one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.

In addition to being covered by the statewide mandate on masks in public, there will now be a legal requirement that prohibits people from entering a place of business — either indoors or outdoors — without first donning a mask.

Under that same proclamation, businesses in Yakima County are prohibited from allowing a customer to enter a business, or conduct business with a customer in any public space unless the customer is wearing a face covering.

The orders take effect Friday.

Yakima County has the highest rate of COVID-19 per capita in the western United States. Twenty-two percent of hospitalizations statewide have come from Yakima County, the governor said.

“Yakima County has more cases than the total case count in the entire state of Oregon,” he added.

Last Wednesday, Inslee announced updated guidelines to how religious services are conducted throughout the state. As part of Washington’s Phase 3 reopening stage, more people will be able to partake in faith-based gatherings. Phase 3 permits an indoor capacity of 50% or 400 people — whichever is the lesser number. Face covering requirements will remain in place.

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