Counties to remain in current phases; Inslee to sign ‘No Mask, No Service’ mandate
Gov. Inslee said on Thursday he will sign a statewide mandate by Tuesday that prohibits businesses from serving customers without masks.
This is already a mandate in Yakima County, which is reporting more than 7,000 cases of coronavirus. The new mandate expands on a previous statewide mask or face coverings initiative that Inslee announced on June 10.
The governor said the new mandate is a result of increasing cases of COVID-19 across Washington state. The infections per day peaked in April, decreased in April and May, started increasing again in June, and now is back up to the peak.
He recognized that Washingtonians took painful steps early to knock the virus down, but to take further steps we have to drive down the rate of infection, and that involves wearing more masks.
“It’s just a piece of cloth, and it’s available to all of us,” Inslee said of masks. “It is a symbol that we care about the community, we care about our loved ones.”
The state has delivered, or will deliver, 3.6 million masks to low income people to make sure they are available in cities and counties, Inslee reported, and many nonprofits in the state are doing the same.
“This is not an optional plan for businesses,” the governor said about the new mandate. “This is a legal requirement. This is not merely a suggestion. If you go to a business and you’re not complying with this, the business cannot legally serve you.”
Inslee also announced that bar and counter service will no longer be permitted in Phase 3. Bars and restaurants can remain open and provide service, but not at bar tops.
“We need to sit down and be served,” Inlsee said. “We can’t have people mingling shoulder to shoulder.”
Secretary of Health John Wiesman said the state is also pausing all movement into the next phase for at least two weeks. This means if your county is in Phase 2 — King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, and Snohomish, for example — it’ll remain in Phase 2 until at least mid-July.
There are now three counties in Phase 1, two counties in a modified version of Phase 1, 17 in Phase 2, and 17 in Phase 3, according to the state.
Wiesman says it’s safest to stay home, stay local, keep your circle of friends and contacts small, practice good hygiene, and wear a cloth face covering.
“This is not the time for extended family, friends, or neighborhood parties, retirements, or fourth of July barbeques,” he said.