Facemasks Orders Starting May 18th – King County Public Health Announcement


A major new announcement was made on Monday, May 11th by public health officials in King County that beginning next Monday (May 18) most residents will be directed to wear face coverings in most public settings. This is an essential act which will protect those most in danger of contracting the virus and ultimately slow its spread. 

This means residents must wear a face covering at any indoor or outdoor public space where we may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live in our homes. A face covering is not needed if we are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors and able to maintain the six-foot distancing guidelines. 

Here are some of the places where we are being strongly urged to wear face coverings: 

• Buses, light rail, and other forms of public transportation.

• Stores that sell food and beverages, including grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, and big box stores that sell groceries.

• Retail stores, including convenience stores, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair shops, hardware and home improvement stores, garden stores that sell supplies for growing food, office supply stores, and home appliance stores. 

• Restaurant take-out and food businesses. Employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear masks.

• Cannabis, tobacco, and vapor shops and stores that sell dietary supplements. 

Health officers want to stress that they are asking us to wearing face coverings. Do not use medical masks. Wear fabric face coverings, such as cloth face masks, scarves, and bandanas. It is important to save medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers and people who have special health needs. 

Some people do not need to follow this directive, including:

• Children ages 2 years and younger. Babies and toddlers under age two should never wear cloth face coverings. Children between 2 and 12 should only wear a face covering if a parent or caregiver supervises to make sure it’s worn safely.

• Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering. 

• Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate. 

• Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues. 

• Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help. 

Individuals are strongly urged to do their part by wearing masks as outlined in this new Directive. There is no criminal, civil, or financial penalty for failing to wear a face covering in these settings, but we owe it to one another. 

Businesses and individuals must continue to follow all existing COVID-19 orders from the Local Health Officer, Governor, or other local, state, or federal regulatory agencies, and any other relevant local, state, or federal civil rights laws. In addition, businesses are required to post signage advising individuals to wear face coverings on the premises. Businesses can download a sign that can be used for this purpose at http://www.kingcounty.gov/masks.