Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide requirement that business owners refuse service to customers who do not comply with a face mask order went into effect Tuesday.
“We need masking adherence across the state,” Inslee said during a news conference in Olympia on Tuesday. “We need businesses to adhere, and we believe that they will. We believe that, not just because it’s the law but because we know that people want to do their part.”
The no-mask, no-service mandate is another in a series of efforts by the governor to quell the coronavirus pandemic in Washington. In early June, Inslee directed most workers to wear a face covering, and on June 23 he mandated masks for everyone in public spaces — indoor or outdoor — when a six-feet physical distance cannot be maintained.
Inslee counseled employees against taking matters into their own hands.
“We are not asking people to get into any physical confrontation,” Inslee said Tuesday. “Just do not ring up the sale.”
Last week, the Freedom Foundation, a national public policy organization based in Olympia, filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven Washingtonians seeking an injunction to the mask requirement as “relief for the violation of civil rights and liberties,” the complaint said.
“Anyone can file a lawsuit who wants to waste their money, and we believe we are in very firm constitutional and statutory grounds,” Inslee said, citing several previous resolutions that upheld the constitutionality of mask ordinances.
In addition to requiring face masks, the governor’s proclamation also requires employer cooperation with COVID-19 investigations by public health authorities and compliance with any other orders or directives. Business owners who do not comply risk a fine or losing their business license.
Inslee was asked by reporters Tuesday how bad it needed to get before he’d consider moving counties backward. The governor expressed confidence it won’t come to that if mask wearing is embraced across the state.
“We’ve been in a long slog here but we’re just not finished,” he said. “I believe we are already seeing Washingtonians upping their game big time. I believe we can do this.”