Yakima County sheriff’s deputies will enforce face mask order, but hope they don’t have to

Violating the order could mean up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine
Yakima County Sheriff’s Office reopens main building

UPDATE: Yakima County Sheriff Robert Udell issued a statement Thursday saying his office will not be enforcing the order.

YAKIMA, Wash. — By the end of the week, everyone in Washington state will be required to wear a face mask in public; anyone who doesn’t could face a misdemeanor charge.

“The governor did say violations would be a misdemeanor crime, which in our state would be a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 fine,” Yakima County sheriff’s spokesman Casey Schilperoort said.

The order by the state Secretary of Health cites the Washington Administrative Code, which requires that orders issued by local health officers, “must be enforced by all police officers, sheriffs, constables, and all other officers and employees of any political subdivisions within the jurisdiction of the health department.”

The code also states that “any person who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or any lawful rule adopted by the board shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Schilperoort said deputies will enforce the order if they have to, but hope that it won’t come to that.

“The sheriff’s office stance will continue to be education over enforcement,” Schilperoort said. “We hope we don’t have to enforce the proclamation and that people will just wear the mask and do what they know they should be doing.”

Additionally, Schilperoort said enforcing the order will not take priority over other law enforcement duties.

“We have so many more crimes and issues to take care of that this one is not high on the list,” Schilperoort said.

In addition to the face mask order from the state Department of Health, a separate proclamation from the governor’s office will go into effect Friday that applies to businesses in Yakima County.

The proclamation include a “No Mask, No Service” rule under which businesses must refuse to serve customers not wearing masks; if they don’t, the business could lose its license.

Additionally, failure to comply with the proclamation could result in criminal charges for the business owner, specifically, a gross misdemeanor.

The proclamation cites a portion of Washington state law that refers to the governor’s emergency powers during a state of emergency.

Under the law, “any person willfully violating any provision of an order issued by the governor under this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.”

In Washington state, a gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Read the full statewide face coverings order here and the corresponding law referenced in the order here.

Read the full proclamation regarding Yakima County businesses here and the corresponding law referenced in the proclamation here.