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King County health directive to wear face coverings in public starts Monday

A person wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus walks by a shop displaying face coverings in Allentown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

King County residents are asked to wear face coverings in most public settings starting Monday, May 18, per a directive from Public Health — Seattle & King County.

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Public health officials encourage face coverings to be worn whenever you are at an indoor public space, or outdoors where you may be within six feet of someone outside of your own household.

Locations where masks or face coverings are recommended to be worn are:

  • Stores that sell food and beverages (including grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, liquor stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, produce stands, supermarkets)
  • Retail stores (including convenience stores, pet supply stores, auto supply and repair shops, hardware stores, garden stores, office supply stores)
  • Restaurant takeout and food businesses
  • Cannabis shops and stores that sell dietary supplements
  • Tobacco and vapor shops
  • Buses, light rail, and other forms of public transportation

If you are outside exercising, walking, or enjoying a park, and are able to stay away from other people, a face covering is not necessary.

The face covering directive apply to cloth face coverings, not medical masks. Homemade cloth face masks, scarves, and bandannas that cover your nose and mouth are appropriate options. Medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers and individuals with health needs.

Public Health reminds everyone to wear face coverings properly, making sure it covers your nose and mouth, washing your hands with soap and water before you put a mask on and after removing it, changing your face covering when it gets moist, and washing it after every use.

Young children, ages 2 and under, do not need to wear face coverings. Children ages 2-12 only need a face covering if they can be supervised to ensure it’s being worn safely. Individuals with a disability that may have trouble wearing or removing face coverings, individuals who are deaf, and anyone who has trouble breathing or has been advised by a medical professional not to wear a face covering do not need to follow the directive.

There is no penalty for not wearing a face covering, though it is strongly encouraged. Law enforcement is not involved with this health directive.

CDC recommends cloth face covering to be worn in community settings

King County Executive Dow Constantine said wearing a face covering is one step everyone can take to protect themselves, each other, the essential workers, and to help slow the spread of the virus.

“It is a sign of our mutual concern for each other,” Constantine said.

A summary of this directive from King County is also available in Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese online here.

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