Face-covering directive goes into effect Monday for most - but not all

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Photo by S Betnel
The King county directive to wear face coverings while in public goes into effect May 18 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Health leaders are asking everyone to keep in mind that face coverings should not be worn by everyone and are committed to ensuring that individuals who are unable to safely wear face coverings are not harassed or discriminated against.

Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering include:

  • someone who has a physical disability that makes it difficult to easily wear or remove a face covering; 
  • someone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear one; 
  • someone who has trouble breathing or cannot remove a face covering without assistance; or 
  • someone who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communications.


In addition, 33,000 King County residents have an intellectual or developmental disability that could affect their ability to wear a face covering.

“Wearing a face covering is important; if you can, you should.

"It is also important to understand that some people cannot wear face coverings for health, sensory, or communication reasons. If you meet someone without a face covering, please give them grace. It is not always obvious who has a disability,” said Robin Tatsuda, Executive Director of The Arc of King County.

Photo provided by Diane Lindberg

Starting on May 18, most people who live in King County should wear face coverings in most public settings.

This includes buses and light rail, stores, and take-out restaurants – any place inside or outside where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you.

You do NOT have to use a face covering while walking, exercising, or otherwise being outdoors if you can stay 6 feet away from people who do not live with you. Face coverings can be cloth, scarves, or bandannas. They should cover the nose and mouth.

Some people need special medical-grade masks; please don’t use those if you don’t need to. They can be hard to find.



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