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A mask requirement for Seattle is in the works, mayor says

caption: A light rail passenger looks out of the window as it passes through Westlake Station on Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Seattle.
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A light rail passenger looks out of the window as it passes through Westlake Station on Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said that Seattle residents should expect an official announcement about wearing masks on Friday, May 8, or Monday, May 11.

Durkan said that Seattle is considering a requirement for people to wear masks or other face coverings to protect against coronavirus, as businesses re-emerge and Washington state slowly phases back from its stay-home order.

"We’ve been looking at that issue now and are working with Seattle-King County Public Health and the state to try and stay in alignment," Durkan told KUOW's The Record on Thursday.

The mayor was short on specifics, but said that "some mandatory face coverings in certain retail establishments, which seems to not only be guidance from the CDC, but the accepted practice, since so many people are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic."

She said it's another step to slow virus transmission.

Durkan said the city is speaking with county and state health authorities, along with other stakeholders to ensure the city can effectively roll out a mask requirement.

King County Executive Dow Constantine told The Record on April 28 that such talks were underway, implying that such an order could affect areas outside of Seattle. He said that he had been in conversations with Mayor Durkan and others about when a mask order would be appropriate.

“There’s continued debate about whether use of non-medical masks has much impact, but I as a lay person believe that, at a minimum, it reduces the chance you might infect someone else," Constantine said.

The county executive said he has observed people practicing poor covetiquette while in the grocery store, neglecting to wear masks.

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

Certain corners of western Washington have already implemented face mask rules. Costco now requires all customers to wear face coverings. Sea-Tac Airport and various airlines have also made similar calls.

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Other cities and counties across the nation have similar rules.

Orange County, Florida issued an executive order stating that workers and customers in close contact must wear masks.

There is another order in Denver, Colo. Also, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York, and other states have variations on their own mask requirements.

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