Face mask requirement officially in place across Washington state

The start of summer 2020 is adding another layer to history. Face masks are mandatory across Washington state starting Friday with some exceptions.

Outside of those exceptions, if you don’t comply, it’s considered a misdemeanor crime.

At a quick glance, the majority of people at Pike Place on Friday were wearing face masks and those who were not will learn the law is not on their side.

“Making a statewide order now, its official, it’s not optional,” Seattle resident Brandon Pietenpol said.

Pietenpol would prefer not to wear a face mask but he says a little discomfort is the least we can endure if it means slowing down the transmission of COVID-19.

The requirement says you have to wear a mask in public spaces. When you are outside you don’t have to wear a mask if you can stay 6 feet away from another person who is not in your household.

The exceptions to the mask requirement include children under 2 years old.

Kids who are 2, 3, and 4 years-old are not required to wear a mask but they are encouraged to.

Also, anyone who is hearing impaired and has other health conditions impacted by wearing a mask are also exempt.

Even so, state officials say be wary of people using printed home cards citing the Americans With Disabilities Act to justify not wearing a mask.

In those cases, health experts say businesses should not feel forced to let those clients in but instead find other ways to do business like curbside pickup.

“If people don’t abide by this order, under those conditions, we can go to the next step which would require businesses essentially not be business for people who don’t follow the order,” Governor Inslee said.

No law enforcement entity has come out to say they will strongly enforce the mask law. In fact, as of Friday, several police departments in Seattle, Bonney Lake, and Yakima say they will not cite or arrest anyone.

They are encouraging voluntary compliance.

“Some enforcement is necessary especially on higher entities,” Pietenpol said.

He says businesses that don't comply should face repercussions moving forward.

Pietenpol says the piece of cloth is not a political statement. It’s about science that now says widespread mask use is one of the best defenses to lessen the spread.