Thurston County issues directive requiring face coverings

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — The Thurston County health officer, Dr. Diana Yu, issued a directive Wednesday requiring everyone to wear a face covering, except when eating or drinking, at indoor public settings, or at outdoor public areas where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

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“I’m exercising my authority as health officer for Thurston County to require that people wear cloth face coverings in particular circumstances,” said Yu. “With our approval to begin Phase 2 of Safe Start Recovery, it’s more important than ever that people be cautious, responsible, and considerate of others. We want to continue moving forward as a county. Without extra caution, we risk backsliding.”

According to the directive, the face coverings must be worn so that people will avoid contaminating their hands or face.

It also states that people should clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, or wash their hands before putting on a mask and after removing it.

Certain people are exempt from the directive:

• Any child aged 3 years or less;

• Any child aged 4-12 years unless parents and caregivers supervise the use of face coverings by children to avoid misuse;

• Any individual who has any type of disability that prevents them from comfortably wearing or removing a face covering;

• Any individual who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication;

• Any individual who has been advised by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to that individual;

• Any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.

In addition to the requirement of face coverings, all commercial establishments are being directed to post signs advising people to wear the coverings. The signs will be available for download at the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services website.

If someone violates the directive, it will not be grounds for residents or law enforcement to stop, detain, issue a citation, arrest, intimidate or harass anyone who does not comply, officials said.

According to the directive, a face covering does not replace the need to practice social distancing, frequent handwashing and avoiding touching one’s face.

To read the face covering directive in its entirety, click here.