Face covering directive for Tri-Cities region goes into effect June 8

face mask

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Benton-Franklin Health Officer Dr. Amy Person issued a health officer directive Thursday for the public to use face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The directive will take effect on June 8 and will apply to all indoor public places in Benton and Franklin counties.

This includes grocery stores and other businesses, as well as outside settings where maintaining six feet of physical distancing is difficult. Individuals are strongly urged to wear the face coverings over their nose and mouth.

“With greater freedom comes greater responsibility,” said Dr. Person. “Issuing this directive will help bolster our commitment to safely advancing to the next phase of the Safe Start Washington plan.”

Wearing a face covering can help prevent the spread of infection to others by blocking infectious droplets from spreading when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes and speaks. People can be infected and contagious before or even without developing symptoms, according to the health district, which said evidence suggests a significant number of infections may be transmitted in this way.

Because face masks such as N95 respirators continue to be reserved for health care workers, residents should use fabric face coverings such as cloth masks, scarves, or bandanas.

The directive applies to both workers and patrons of groceries, pharmacies, big box stores, and other essential establishments, including pet supplies, auto repairs and home improvement stores. Restaurants with carry-out and food delivery must comply as well.

Face coverings do not need to be worn outside unless appropriate social distancing cannot be practiced, such as at farmers markets.