Inslee: Face coverings required across Washington state starting June 26


OLYMPIA, Wash. — Everyone in Washington state will be required to wear a face covering in public starting Friday, June 26, Gov. Jay Inslee announced during a news conference Tuesday.

Under an order issued by state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, the face coverings will need to be worn at all indoor public spaces and outdoor public spaces where six feet of distance cannot be maintained

Exceptions include people with medical issues who are advised not to wear a face covering, people who are deaf or have hearing loss and children under age 2. Masks are not required for children ages 3 to 5, but they are recommended.

Inslee said there has been an uptick in coronavirus cases as most Washington state counties begin to reopen. He said the average number of cases spreading from a single case has gone up.

He said the face covering strategy will not replace physical distancing and other recommendations previously issued by health officials.

Additionally, Inslee said businesses in Yakima County specifically must refuse service to anyone who does not wear a mask. He called Yakima County the “epicenter” of this virus in the state of Washington.

He said Yakima County hospitals remain at capacity, and patients are having to be transported by ambulance from Yakima County to hospitals in Seattle and other places.

Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties are the only there counties in the state that remain in Phase 1 of reopening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.