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Facemasks: Yes, no?, When, Where?

With Governor Inslee's latest order for all Washingtonians to wear masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing isn't possible, there have been questions about when and where to wear face coverings to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Since February much has changed. Supplies of face masks have largely increased to the point that they are now for sale at checkout stands everywhere. In addition several studies have been done looking specifically at COVID-19 infection spread and use of face masks. The studies show that the virus is spread by people with no symptoms and that transmission is primarily between people in close proximity. The primary means of transmission is from people speaking, coughing or sneezing.

Governor Inslee's statewide face-covering order similar to other governors requires using masks when out in public areas, particularly indoor public areas. King County and Kenmore issued face covering directives effective May 18, which direct all persons and commercial establishments within Kenmore’s boundaries to wear a mask at any indoor or outdoor public space where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing.

Some of the places where face coverings were strongly recommended before and are now required:

  • Buses, light rail, and other forms of public transportation.

  • Stores that sell food and beverages, including: grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, and big box stores that sell groceries.

  • Retail stores, including: convenience stores, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair shops, hardware and home improvement stores, garden stores that sell supplies for growing food, office supply stores, and home appliance stores.

  • Restaurant take-out and food businesses. Employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear masks.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Public Health – Seattle & King County directive can be found here.

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