Seattle businesses could lose licenses, go to jail or pay fines for not enforcing mask rule

SEATTLE — A new city order says businesses in Seattle must require people to wear face masks or they could lose their license, go to jail or pay thousands of dollars in fines.

City officials said many people aren't wearing face coverings inside businesses and they believe that's contributing to more cases in Seattle. So now they're asking businesses to step up and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Friday that the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) issued a new public health and safety measure to help enforce state-mandated business requirements.

“Our focus is really around making sure that businesses understand what their role in this is,” said Beth Gappert of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

If businesses have repeated and/or egregious offenses, those businesses could have their City of Seattle business license suspended and may be charged with a crime that carries a maximum penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“You have to wear a face covering inside of a business unless you are exempt for a certain reason,” Gappert said. “Several weeks ago we had seen that the numbers had really started to increase in King County.”

Public Health officials will also be doing spot checks to make sure businesses are in compliance.

People or employees who are concerned that businesses aren’t enforcing the face coverings mandate, practicing social distancing or adhering to occupancy limits can use the Find It, Fix It app or online form or call 206-684-2489 (CITY) to report their concerns.

Businesses can also learn more by visiting the FAS website.