Directive from King County Health: Wear Face Coverings in Public

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Beginning May 18, King County residents were directed to wear face coverings in most public settings.

The King County Health Officer issued a directive to wear face coverings in public places, both indoors in places such as grocery stores and businesses, and also outdoors when it’s difficult to maintain six feet apart from others. While face coverings do not replace proper hygiene or social distancing as protection measures, they can help to protect others and slow spread of COVID-19 by blocking infectious droplets from spreading when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or speaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define cloth face coverings as fabric coverings including cloth face masks, scarves and bandana coverings, or any homemade face covering made of cotton fabric. The CDC also makes clear that cloth face coverings should:

  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Make sure you are wearing your face covering properly!

Everyone is strongly urged to wear face coverings in places such as:

  • Stores that sell food and beverages (including: grocery stores, pharmacies, corner stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, farmers' markets, food banks, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, big box stores that sell groceries, and similar places that sell food).

  • Retail stores (including: convenience stores, pet supply stores, auto supplies and repair shops, hardware and home improvement stores, garden stores that sell supplies for growing food, office supply stores, and home appliance stores).

  • Restaurant take-out and food businesses. Employees who prepare, carry out, and deliver food must wear masks.

  • Cannabis shops and stores that sell dietary supplements.

  • Tobacco and vapor shops.

  • Buses, light rail, and other forms of public transportation.

The Health Officer’s Directive relies on individual compliance; there is no penalty for not wearing a mask.

Other details regarding the directive:

Operators and riders on King County Metro will be required to wear face coverings.

  • Metro operators will not prevent passengers without face coverings from boarding, but recorded reminders will play on the vehicle’s public address system informing riders of the face covering policy.
    • Security officers will communicate public health guidance to riders who are not wearing a face covering or staying apart from other passengers.

Face coverings are not directed to be worn when:

  • At home
    • In your car alone or if you’re only with members of your household
    • Exercising outdoors, like walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when appropriate social distancing is possible

Is anyone exempt from wearing a face covering?

  • Face coverings should not be worn by children who are two years of age or younger, or children under the age of twelve unless supervised by an adult.
    • Additionally, if wearing a face covering would be difficult or harmful, an individual should not do so. Examples would be someone who has a physical disability that makes it difficult to easily wear or remove a face covering; someone who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communications; someone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear one; or someone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove a face covering without assistance.

For more information visit

Still need a mask? Check out these DIY Face Mask options from King County or these options from the CDC.! Have you seen the 45 second video from the Surgeon General? If not, he shares the easiest face covering option.

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