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Seattle to require face masks in ‘indoor public spaces or confined spaces’ — UPDATE

King County and Seattle officials are announcing new rules on face masks in a bid to quash the COVID-19 outbreak in the region.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Public Health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin are scheduled to hold “a virtual press conference” Monday afternoon to discuss a new directive on face coverings.

The new directive requires King County residents to wear “a cloth face covering in indoor public spaces or confined spaces where it could be difficult to maintain six feet of physical distancing,” according to materials being prepared to inform the public about the change.

UPDATE: “King County residents are directed to wear face coverings in most public settings” as of May 18th, the announcement reads.

The announcement says examples of where the coverings will be required include “stores, restaurants, farmers markets, banks, and public transportation.”

“Deaf hard-of-hearing and other individuals who rely on face and mouth movements to communicate are not required to comply with this directive,” the county says.

The directive does not call for face masks “when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.”

UPDATE: The City of Seattle will provide masks at no cost to “to vulnerable communities, including people experiencing homelessness, low-income older adults, and food bank staff” —

Following Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Local Health Directive, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City of Seattle will provide over 45,000 free cloth face coverings to vulnerable communities, including people experiencing homelessness, low-income older adults, and food bank staff. As one of the region’s largest employers, the City will also provide cloth face coverings for every City of Seattle employee. Effective May 18, King County residents must wear cloth face coverings in indoor public settings, on King County Metro buses, and in outdoor settings where physical distancing could be difficult, such as farmers markets. Residents must continue to practice good hygiene and continue physical distancing in addition to wearing cloth face coverings.

Previously, officials here have recommended the coverings but not required them. In addition to now providing clear guidance about the masks for people as they go about their errands and trips outside the home, the rules will also help businesses set policies for their customers as venues reopen under loosened COVID-19 restrictions.

UPDATE: 21st Ave’s Girlie Press has free “No mask No entry” posters for local businesses while supplies last:

The county has said past directives “may be subject to enforcement actions, which could include legal actions.” Duchin’s past “Local Health Officer Directive” rules have included rules around isolation and quarantine, and limits on social gatherings.

After initial mixed messages as hospitals and health workers struggled with low supplies of “personal protective equipment,” in April the CDC finally issued its recommendations on the “use of cloth face coverings” to slow the spread of COVID-19 and sightings of the face coverings around the Hill began to increase as part of efforts to protect others from possible infection.

Experts changed course on the recommendations amid increased evidence of how asymptomatic people spread the virus. Coverings “may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.”

Masks with holes or vents won’t help and nothing is a substitute for adequate distancing.

If you need a new mask, there are a few local options. Splash Fabric is an outgrowth of the neighborhood Imp Wear business that has ramped up its face mask production and offers online ordering at

Whether you’re looking for a sturdy but stylish tote for your next trip, a stain-proof tablecloth for your weekend BBQs or a water-proof apron for your pottery class, we’ve got you covered. Everything we make is built to last while also adding color to your life. And because we design our fabric ourselves, our pieces are one-of-a-kind.

A.Oei Studio offers Capitol Hill designed “Buenos Aires” style face masks at

Other Capitol Hill retailers have also started stocking masks.

For anybody in a DIY mood, the CDC has also posted instructions on how to create your own coverings:

Here are a few more details on masks and COVID-19 from Washington Health (PDF):

Do cloth face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19? There is limited evidence to suggest that use of cloth face coverings helps reduce disease transmission. However, they can reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has COVID-19 but feels well. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when you are ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these measures.

When should I wear a cloth face covering? You may choose to wear a cloth face covering when you are in public for an essential activity, such as shopping at the grocery store. Wearing a cloth face covering does not eliminate the need for other preventive measures, such as washing hands and social distancing.

How should I care for a cloth face covering? Wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Masks should be washed with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that: • No longer cover the nose and mouth • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps • Cannot stay on your face • Have holes or tears in the fabric

The new rules come as the use of face masks has emerged as a political issue with President Trump and his administration including Vice President Mike Pence making public appearances without coverings as the White House pushes for a rapid reopening of state economies. In Washington where the push to reopen has spilled into protests and rallies against the state’s phased approach to loosening restrictions, state officials say there is concern transmission rate could be “no longer falling and may be rising again.”

UPDATE: Over the weekend, King County tallied its 500th death and 7,000th COVID-19 case. Meanwhile, a new death was reported in the ZIP codes across Capitol Hill and the Central District bringing that area’s total to six during the outbreak.

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46 thoughts on “Seattle to require face masks in ‘indoor public spaces or confined spaces’ — UPDATE” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Interesting. But if the police don’t enforce the rules on park attendance during times when they are supposed to be closed do we really think they’re going to roll out for people not wearing a mask in a grocery store? What’s the point of having a directive if it (most likely) won’t be enforced?

    Besides, the people that would wear a mask are mostly already doing it. Those that aren’t, probably won’t no matter what the mayor says.

      • You mean, do I think the police should do their job when the mayor orders parks closed and people flock to them anyway, ignoring social distancing practices during a deadly, global pandemic, possibly spreading the infection further; meaning ever more time in lock-down? Yeah, Ryan, I really think the police should spend their time chasing people out of parks when those parks have been ordered closed.

        Especially as there were articles written, during the Easter parks shutdown, of cops in their vehicles just looking on as people violated the mayor’s order. So, it’s not like they were busy tracking down criminals or answering emergency calls. Let’s not create laws, rules and orders that won’t be enforced. It’s like saying, “we’re reducing speed limits on city streets to save lives,” but never going out and handing out tickets to violators.

        I’m sure someone like yourself would say, “Well, should the police really be spending their time handing out speeding tickets?”

    • Will this really be an issue, though? The stores don’t have to let people in if they’re not wearing masks. Cops probably won’t need to get involved unless someone goes nuts about refusing to wear one.

      • If people are flocking to parks, that offers a lot of commentary in and of itself as to what pwople think, by and large.

        Afraid of the virus? Stay at home. You be in charge of you, and only you. If you tried to tell me what to do in the supermarket, i would knock you out cold right then and there.

        Mind your business. Stay at home if you’re afraid. If you dont go to the park, then what difference does it make who is there? Clearly those people can decide for themselves. You dont hear them telling other people what they can and cant do….do you?

      • Ahh nice, Will Gibson admitting he will assault anyone who asks him to comply with social distancing orders in the grocery store. Good luck buddy.

      • The part of the pandemic that will stick with me the most is learning that 15% of Americans are actual sociopaths.

        Will I feel bad for anyone trapped in a house with you right now.

  2. This was per another publication.

    County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan joined Duchin for a virtual news conference Monday to publicize the policy. There won’t be a penalty for people who don’t wear face coverings and law enforcement will not be involved with the directive, they said. The policy won’t apply to deaf and hard-of-hearing people who rely on face and mouth movements to communicate.

    “We are strongly encouraging King County residents to wear masks” in crowded public spaces, Duchin said when asked whether the directive amounts to a requirement.

  3. I wouldn’t go to Seattle if my life depended on it. I’ll take care of myself. As for the Governor, mayor and county executive, my business is mine. Stay out of it.

    • Your business is not yours if you’re unknowingly carry the virus and get other people sick. Be a good citizen and wear the damn mask. The whining over this is completely ridiculous.

      The funny thing about these Trump supporting protesters is so many of them are doomsday preppers on any other given day. Well, here we are in an actual doomsday scenario and suddenly they can’t be bothered to do the bare minimum to help each other survive AND they are suddenly arguing that the government should be able to kill people to jumpstart the economy. It’s suddenly Opposite Day in their minds all because their idiot President told them masks are for liberals.

    • If kids have to go through active shooter drills so that you guys can have the freedom to own guns, you can wear a freaking mask. None of us should have to deal with thousands of dollars in hospital bills because of some conservative idiot who took a stand over such a petty issue. Grow up.

      • I guess you didn’t get the memo that guys like the poster above (clearly a conservative) get to do whatever it is they want in any and all instances: up to and including sickening others by not wearing masks, forcing children to prepare for the eventuality of a mass shooting event at their school, et cetera, et cetera….

        It’s the price of freedom, Mike, and it’s in the Constitution.

        After all, the First Amendment specifically says:

        “Angry white conservatives get to do whatever they want, regardless of who it affects and what the consequences are, without impediment by anyone, especially nasty Liberals who are basically traitors and clearly cucks….”

        That’s a quote DIRECTLY from our Constitution, Mike. So….

        And then there’s the 2nd Amendment, which states:

        “All the guns for me. Of whatever type and caliber I want up to and including the purchase of military hardware. All the guns, for me. Oh, but this amendment only applies to white people, and specifically white males…for Black people the amendment is to be read ‘no guns for Black people, period.'”

        That, again, is copied-and-pasted directly from the Constitution, Mike!

        So, again…you’re wrong. Angry white conservative guy is right, and that is just the way it is…always.

        Got it?

  4. Why waste time trying to talk common sense to these fools, they are proud of being stupid like Trump. It is obvious Trump’s stupidity and ignorance makes him feel good and proud of being a mass murderer. He needs to be charged in the International Court of Justice. People dying for nothing. People who could have contributed a great deal to this country with their talents are now in the cold cold ground because of a fool who would not know how to run a lemonade stand let alone a country. The ‘dumpsters’ have no idea what a hole this fool has put us in, it will take years and a great deal of money and time to rebuild. It is hard not to think of so many lives lost and the pain families are dealing with. Coming from a large family I have seen a lot of death and serving in the Army. I wish one of these jerks could see what our soldiers went through while trying to recover from plane crashes and other horrific challenges. Trump, the bully, and coward that he is would run in the other direction, he would have one of his cult members take his place. I would love for him to go through the experience soldiers, families, and love ones go through in war and their period of mourning with the death of loved ones in this pandemic.

    If Trump’s cult wishes not to go along with the rules in saving lives let them built their own community and die. We need not waste time trying to make them understand and respect life.

    I sincerely hope most Americans are thinking about the importance of respecting life, respecting each other and clean away as much of your hatered for others as possible. When we are dead, we are very dead. Be a good example for yourself, children, and family. Arrogance and selfishness
    are two of the worst characteristic traits.


  5. Ignore Seattle and King County officials. The WHO recommends the use of medical masks only for the following individuals:

    • Healthcare workers while giving care to patients
    • People who are sick and exhibiting symptoms of COVID19
    • Anyone taking care of a person at home who is sick with COVID19

    The rest of you may now de-mask. Doesn’t that feel better?

    • So the WHO recommends *medical* (paper) masks for those people. That’s fine. Good way to save the paper masks for those who need them. But does that mean they don’t recommend cloth masks for everyone else? Either way, I’ll keep my cloth mask, thanks.

      • The WHO only makes recommendations for the use of medical masks. They do not recommend decorative cloth masks like yours for any individuals.

      • Yes, Bob, you are right, the WHO doesn’t recommend cloth masks for individuals. But the CDC does recommend that we wear them.

  6. No, police won’t be enforcing masks. People will be left on their own to wear them, and people who care about others will. Research shows that the more people who wear masks, the more the incidence of Covid goes down, and as you can transmit the virus when you are asymptomatic, everyone should wear a mask both to protect themselves and others. This crisis is showing how many people truly do not care about others, and that has added an extra layer of sadness to an already rough situation.

    • Seriously… people are acting like toddlers over this. Just because they’ve been asked to do something, they are refusing – like little children who are desperately trying to take their first steps to declaring their independence from their parents. I swear if the CDC came out with recommendation that wearing pants helps to cut down on infection that we’d see a huge increase in people walking about in their underwear – just to be contrary.

      Come on people – wearing a mask isn’t some sort of huge sacrifice – just treat the damned thing like another piece of clothing. It doesn’t make you weak or indicate that you are scared – it makes you look like a person who actually cares about more than just their own selfish ass and maybe it will help us all get back to normal faster.

      I am fed up to the limit with people declaring ‘if you are scared just stay in’ – screw you. I actually have been staying in as much as humanly possible – and wearing a mask when I go out and guess what – it’s not because I’m scared of getting sick – it’s because when I am working, it’s in a hospital, where I have a greater likelihood of having contact with the virus – for all I know (and I kind of suspect) I’ve already had it and been asymptomatic – I’ve been staying in to save your sorry ass from getting really sick and possibly even dying. It’s getting nice out and I really would love to be getting outdoors and living my life normally – but I have a fucking conscience. Every time people like you go out and blithely risk keeping this disease circulating in the community – not even taking the most minor of precautions you are prolonging the time that I will be stuck inside. If I thought I could go out and only risk infecting assholes who don’t care I’d be there in an instant – fortunately for you I can’t help having a conscience.

      • Thank you for saying this better than I could. My husband also works in a medical environment and masks in this house are a no-brainer! Thanks for helping sick people IDHW.

  7. Is there any brick and mortar store in Seattle where I can walk in and buy a mask that will fit me and actually work? Can anyone tell me? I’ve searched in vain.

    I’ve tried the “make your own” thing and the results were disastrous. I’ve also tried ordering masks online. Any online order takes 2 to 5 weeks for delivery (so the vendors say, and that’s been my experience on four different orders). The masks that have arrived so far were cruel ripoffs — unwearable pieces of crap. Online vendors are not reliable in a crisis.

    So yeah, I’d be glad to wear a mask. But where can I get one?

    • Any face covering, even a bandana or scarf, is better than nothing. You just need a physical barrier to minimize the spread of droplets that come out of your mouth and nose. It’s doesn’t have to be perfect or medical grade. There really is no excuse not to do this anymore.

    • Good question, they should be available everywhere and ideally for free (or at a heavily subsidized price). A semi-competent administration of either party would surely have seen to this, three months into the pandemic.

      That said, I recently was able to get 50 of what appear to be surgical masks for about $50 (with tax) at Bartell’s in West Seattle (near Alaska Junction). They’re Chinese made and there is no brand name on the nearly blank box, so I wouldn’t assume that they are truly medical grade. But they look the part, and will presumably offer some protection to those around me (and allow me to shop for groceries).

  8. I live in the middle of the city and anyone without a mask on looks like a fucking asshole. People who can’t handle living in a society need to leave immediately this is no time for babies to be wah wahing about having to do literally anything to earn their keep in a society. This is so easy and it’s literally what we get patted on the back for as “hard work” by public officials. We are a pathetic society of crying baby losers that are so fragile we can’t even admit we share this space with other people. “Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah” – Actual quote from an adult human in my society.

    • Just for some perspective it’s worth remembering that our mid-century forebears were asked to fight in (or at least endure the privations of) a war that ultimately killed three percent of the entire world population and injured and/or displaced another ten percent. We, on the other hand, are being asked to sit on our butts, watch TV, order in, and cover our faces when we do venture outdoors. If we can’t handle that, we deserve whatever fate befalls us as a species.

      • Exactly. Some of us are being asked to go work shitty service jobs serving the grown babies who have 0 regard for anyone around them…. in a society. The society part can’t really be stressed enough. It is where we all live and we can’t live alone in a society. There’s far too many whiny losers in this society that want to pretend they’re living on the range somewhere in some distant past and they have no reliance on the millions of people involved with making their lives what they are every day. If people continue to drill down on anti-government and anti-societal mentalities we’ll go the way of so many other societies in history. This society is truly all an illusion and it must be maintained.

      • But you’re crushing the dreams of Libertarians and An-Caps everywhere by denying them the right to make believe they live alone on Mars…

  9. It’s natural that some people don’t like being told what to do.
    Though your reasons for telling them may be sound, they way many go about could probably be more well thought out.
    Comments like “they shouldn’t be allowed medical care if sick” or “you selfish idiot etc etc” are dangerous in themselves.
    I would be scared if the zealots for social distancing and max vax took control of the covid response. I would be scared if the mass herd immunity crowd was in charge too. Like a lot of things the way to go lies in the middle somewhere and both sides should just chill tf out and talk to each other like the good human deep down inside that you are.

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