VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) - People in Washington will want to make sure they have a face covering with them Monday as a statewide indoor mask mandate goes back into effect.

Last week, Governor Jay Inslee announced the new mask mandate following weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations primarily linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Inslee also announced a requirement that all K-12 public school employees get vaccinated, as well as state employees and health care workers.

The universal mask mandate applies to everyone over five years of age regardless of vaccination status. The mandate does not apply to public outdoor spaces, indoor office spaces or other workspaces not accessible to the public, and small private indoor gatherings where everybody is vaccinated.

The Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) said the mandate reflects recommendations of all 35 health officers in the state and recent changes to CDC guidance that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public settings, in areas of substantial or high transmission.

FOX 12 spoke with people and business owners in downtown Vancouver to get their take on the mask mandate coming back to the state. Kafiex Roasters manager David Lemieux says they have plans to put signs up and provide disposable masks for customers who may not have one. He says he's a little nervous about how customers will react, but what's most important is to keep his staff working and keep everyone safe.

"I think we're comfortable with it, part of it is just patience. Everybody is frustrated, we're frustrated, we always want to get through this," Lemieux told FOX 12. "I think other people feel that way as well. so it's just being patient and showing support for each other."

Another person walking along the waterfront Monday told FOX 12 he's happy to do his part.

"Whatever protects the most people is all I really care about, so it's not a problem for me to wear my mask. If it's helping other people, easy enough for me," Jeff Sego said.

The WSDOH says there are some exceptions to the indoor mask requirement, including:

  • Children under age five years of age. However, children age two to four years old can wear a mask under close adult supervision.
  • People with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask
  • Fully vaccinated workers who are working alone or in an area not accessible to the public
  • Athletes who play indoor sports and who are actively engaged in competition or practice (masks are still required on sidelines and in team meetings)
  • Small indoor private gatherings when everyone is vaccinated
  • Children under two years of age should not wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation

Gov. Inslee's office said they're still working out details on how the statewide indoor mask mandate will be enforced.

A statewide indoor mask mandate has been in effect in Oregon since Aug. 13.

Copyright 2021 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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