State issuing fines, citations for violating pandemic restrictions

It’s not just the number of infection rates on the rise, so too are complaints. Many are alleging business owners are skirting facemask requirements and other measures meant to curb the spread of the virus.

While business owners do have a chance to appeal a fine or citation, penalties can reach into the thousands of dollars.

Vanessa Borden says she was an employee at The Agate Store in Mason County before buying the building a dozen years ago.

The state Department of Labor and Industries says someone complained to regulators employees and customers were skirting mask and distancing rules. After L &I says investigators paid a visit, and witnessed the violations, Borden was issued $7,500 in fines.

 “Page by page, looking at all the fines,” said Borden. “I was shocked.”

The agency says a couple hundred complaints would call each day and now those numbers have nearly tripled.

Some businesses that allegedly opened their doors to customers before Governor Jay Inslee’s safe start phased re-opening plans would end in a hefty price. Other businesses were allegedly found violating one or more pandemic safety requirements for customers, employees and some others. The fines resulted in expensive lessons.

“I’ve requested a full report,” said Borden.

Borden says she’s fixed the violations in her business, but wonders even if her employees play by the rules defiant customers may remain an issue.

 “We have our barriers, our stickers on the floor,” she said. “I’m not the Covid police.