SNOQUALMIE, Wash. - The top health official in Washington's most populated county has issued new mask guidance after a week of confusion.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for King County Public Health, says everyone 5 and older should continue to wear a face covering indoors. He says ending the mask mandate in King County would increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
But some King County businesses have already changed their masking rules and aren’t eager to switch back.
Some storefronts in downtown Snoqualmie look a little different this week.
"We took our masks required sign down after last week's announcement," says Joelle Gibson, owner of the gift shop Carousel.
Some business owners tell us they felt requiring masks after the CDC updated their guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to go maskless felt like a losing battle, regardless of the new King County directive.
"Customers that come in, it's their choice whether they wear a mask or not. We welcome everyone in equally, masked or unmasked," says Gibson.
She says she and her employees will stay masked up, despite being vaccinated. But if a customer comes in without a mask, they’ll no longer ask them to put one on.
"I feel like the CDC kind of took away our leverage and I’m done fighting," says Dave Storm, owner of BBQ restaurant Buckshot Honey.
Storm also took down his "mask required" sign last week.
"I’m not here to babysit strangers."
Business owners say many customers are still wearing masks, but it’s still been a very confusing and stressful time.
"Today when they said the masks need to stay on, now that is a whole other thing they need to worry about," says Kelly Coughlin, executive director of the SnoValley Chamber of Commerce.
Coughlin has been trying to help businesses figure out how to proceed with mask mandates. While it’s still confusing she says ultimately, "it is the shop owner’s choice."
Coughlin says about 25% of businesses in the valley are no longer enforcing masks, and while the county health department’s announcement stirred up questions once again, ultimately they’re sticking with it.
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