OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday that the focus of his face mask mandate will be on inspiring compliance, not citations.
Washington residents have shown a willingness to follow safety recommendations in the past and the hope is they will continue to do so for this mandate, Inslee said.
“Look, when you wear a facial mask, that’s a cloth mask. What you’re showing is that you want to protect everybody else around you,” Inslee said. “It might be your grandparent, another student, it might be the grocery worker, but it shows that you have the virtue of caring about other people.”
People who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask will not be required to provide a doctor’s note, he said, and will be taken at their word.
Local law enforcement agencies will also not be mandated to enforce face coverings, according to a Washington State Patrol news release. The state agency will also be continuing to focus on crimes and criminals that impact public safety.
Local agencies also stated Wednesday that they would not be looking to ticket or arrest people who did not comply with the order including:
- The Wenatchee Police Department
- Chelan County Sheriff’s Office
- East Wenatchee Police Department
- Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
- Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office
- Grant County Sheriff’s Office
People shouldn’t feel a sense of machismo, masculine pride, about not wearing a mask, Inslee said. It’s fine for people to say that they don’t care about their own health, but the problem is they could put others at risk.
“Because even though you have no symptoms, you can transmit this disease,” he said. “So, I think that as time goes on, and as more people wear these masks, this will become something that’s just kind of a normal activity.”
If not enough people wear masks it is possible that the number of positives will grow, preventing some counties from progressing to the next phase or even causing them to go backward, Inslee said.
The mandate to wear masks is the law in Washington state and it will be a misdemeanor not to obey it, he said. It is possible that if not enough people wear masks that there could be some form of law enforcement activity in the future.
It is also still not recommended that people gather in large groups, Inslee said. Medical professionals are warning against super spreaders. People who are capable of delivering a large amount of the virus and gatherings are opportunities for those individuals to infect a lot of other individuals.
“So, this is a real thing, and when this happens, like in Snohomish County, it puts a burden on us,” he said. “We have to contact trace everybody in that crowd and that takes a lot of person power.”