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Washington's statewide mask policy now in place

Statewide order requires masks be worn inside and outside in public places until further notice

STEVENSON, Wash. — In Skamania County, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last three months according to state data. The county has been in Phase 3 for about two weeks, which means libraries, museums and theaters can open.

Restaurants and bars can increase their capacity up to 75 percent, but phase 3 is still hurting some businesses.

"It's been really challenging. Even at this point, being at 75 percent capacity in Phase 3, we still need to keep people 6 feet apart," said Tabatha Wiggins, co-owner of Walking Man Brewing. 

She said they still don't allow indoor seating because of the inability to keep tables 6 feet apart inside, which means they've lost about 50 seats for customers.

Friday was also the start of the statewide mask requirement in Washington and Walking Man Brewing has signs up letting customers know.

"Washington State is requiring it so we're requiring it. That's just the end of it."

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Customers at Walking Man need to wear a mask when ordering and walking around, but not when sitting at the table eating or drinking. 

The state mandate signed by Gov. Jay Inslee requires everyone to wear a mask inside public places, and outdoors where social distancing is not an option.

Where are mask or coverings required?

A mask or face covering is required in all public indoor settings. They are also required in any outdoor public setting where social distancing of 6 feet isn't possible.

Basically, if its an area where people are in close proximity to those they don't live with, a face covering or face mask will be required. But there are some common-sense exceptions to this order.

Exceptions to the rules are when you are eating and drinking, children under the age of 2 or those with a medical condition that would prevent one from wearing one.

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In downtown Stevenson at A & J Grocery, a sign out front lets customers know the new requirement, but notes they will not stop someone from entering their store without a mask because they say they are not enforcers of the law and are following guidance from the State Department of Health.

"We're still kind of promoting this mutual respect, except now the governor's asking you to do it. Out of mutual respect for those around you, you should put a mask on," said Stevenson Mayor Scott Anderson.

Down the road at Columbia Hardware, the sign on the front door is a little more blunt reading, "Just Wear the Damn Thing"

The owner says they have asked customers since the very beginning to wear a mask because of an employee that has a compromised immune system.

On the waterfront, Saturday marks the first time that The Stevenson Waterfront Farmers Market will open under new guidelines. It draws a couple hundred visitors each week and before managers say they have left it up to the vendors and customers on whether to wear a mask or not.

"Now we are encouraging everyone to wear masks, because really the most important thing is community feels safe. This is for the community," Manager Pharaoh Skinner said.

In Washington State, around 1,300 people have died from COVID-19 according to state data. 

Science has proven that wearing a mask can reduce the spread of COVID-19 from one person to another.

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