Businesses to turn away customers without face masks amid virus

Businesses in Washington are officially required to ask customers who are not wearing a face mask to leave their establishment.

The state’s ‘No Mask, No Service’ order began Tuesday. Governor Jay Inslee issued the mandate to reduce the spread of COVID-19 after a resurgence in coronavirus reports sparked across the state.

Businesses who fail to comply could be fined or even lose their business license which would force them to close. Several store owners in the region said they would follow the new rule because there is too much at risk.

“I do not want to get a fine and I do not want to get shut down,” said Alison Carchedi, owner of Sweet Themes Bakery in Kent. “I just want to survive, get through this.”

The self-proclaimed chief “cookie” officer said their loyal customers have kept them afloat during the pandemic, so much that the shop hasn’t needed any small business loans. It’s one of many reasons why she said they can’t afford to let people go in their shop refusing to obey the state mask order.

“I have staff here who depend on me, I’m their lifeline for working. And I’m not going to let someone risk that for me,” said Carchedi.

Signs are posted on the bakery’s exterior and interior saying the staff has a right to refuse service.

“You don’t follow the rules the consequence is you don’t get to come in the door. Just plain and simple.”

Duane Steig, owner of Fast Signs in Everett, said his store is also complying with the state order. He said he supports the mask requirement.

“I think we need it for both of our sake. I don’t want to breathe any germs you’ve got, and I don’t want you to breathe any of mine,” said Steig.

His store has 200 masks available at no charge for customers who need them, and hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the business. Steig mentioned they are also selling face shields and sneeze guards to help others stay safe during the new mandate. His staff is continuing their social distancing and sanitizing practices.

“We’re still managing safe distancing, and everybody is six to 10 feet apart. And we’ve got sneeze guards up, trying to minimize any breaks—stagger them,” said Steig.

The state purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks to offer at no charge for low income families.

Each person in the household will get two masks. Those who need them are encouraged to contact their local emergency management department.