PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that businesses won’t be allowed to serve customers who don’t wear face coverings, effective July 7.
The announcement is part of Inslee’s “Mask Up, Open Up” campaign aimed at driving down infection rates and COVID-19 case numbers across the state.
The requirement went into effect in Yakima County on Thursday.
Inslee said the statewide requirement is in response to a “troubling” spike in the number of COVID-19 cases caused by more people coming into close contact with others and in an effort to avoid repeating another round of shutdowns.
Customers who have a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask do not have to tell a business what their condition is if they are asked, Inslee said.
“We realize that this is something that we all share, and that’s the ability not infect other people. Republicans and Democrats,” said Inslee. “I just think it’s great that we’re now becoming much more aligned in this regard.”
Inslee said he will also put a two-week freeze on counties looking to advance from their current phases. Washington will also remove bar and counter service in counties currently in Phase 3 to try to decrease prolonged lingering in bars and restaurants.
“We just can’t have folks mingling shoulder-to-shoulder, it’s just way too dangerous,” Inslee said, citing other states that have seen spikes in case numbers after opening bar and counter services.
Inslee was joined by Washington Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman, Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin respectively, and Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers.
Last week, Inslee announced the state would hold off on moving to Phase 4 of its reopening plans after a swell of new COVID-19 cases.
Eight counties were eligible to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 before the pause was implemented: Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Stevens, Pend Orielle, Wahkiakum and Whitman, according to Washington’s Department of Health.
On June 25, Inslee called for a statewide requirement for people in Washington state to wear facial coverings in most indoor and outdoor public settings following continued increases in cases around the state.
Oregon implemented a similar face covering mandate this week.
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