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caption: Jess White, a registered nurse at UW Northwest, demonstrates to another nurse how to properly remove a mask on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at UW Medicine's drive-through testing clinic in Seattle.
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Jess White, a registered nurse at UW Northwest, demonstrates to another nurse how to properly remove a mask on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at UW Medicine's drive-through testing clinic in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Face masks to be required inside King County businesses and crowded outdoor spaces

Residents of Seattle and King County will be required to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside indoor businesses and public transit starting May 18.

Masks must also be worn outside, in places where social distancing may not possible.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine joined together to make the statement on Monday, May 11.

"We must do everything possible to keep people safe, and to avoid a bounce back in hospitalizations, and death," Constantine said.

The order will go into effect on May 18, and does not apply to children, people with disabilities, and deaf individuals. There is no legal penalty for not wearing a face covering.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer with Public Health Seattle & King County, said it would be most effective if everyone followed the new mask directive.

"However, it's not essential that every one of us comply for this to work, and so if there are a few who can't, or don't, this will still be an effective intervention," Duchin said.

Previously, Constantine said on KUOW's The Record that he had observed people neglecting to wear masks while at the grocery store.

"It is dismaying that people are, at this point, still being irresponsible by not wearing masks, or going out when they are sick," he said.

King County is now one of several places in Washington state to adopt face mask requirements.

The Port of Seattle announced Saturday that face coverings are required for travelers passing through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, also beginning May 18.

Costco, the wholesale warehouse goods chain, has started requiring that all customers wear face coverings.

Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York, and other states have variations on their own mask requirements.