Effective Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the wearing of face masks/coverings in public places becomes mandatory in the state of Washington, including Kent.
“Face coverings are required statewide in all public spaces because they are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with 6 feet of physical distance,” the state says.
On Monday, the Kent Police Department released a ‘Mask 411’ post intended to clarify the new regulation:
We have been receiving a lot of questions about masks. The top two questions are:
1. When do Police Officers need to wear masks?
2. With the Governor’s new order in place, will the Police Department arrest or fine me for not wearing a mask?
When do the Police Officers need to wear a mask?
Answer: Kent Police Officers ARE wearing masks to protect themselves and others while at work. They wear them in the station, and when contacting the public. You will at times see them without a mask, and that is generally they are engaged in a task that requires a higher level of communication than a mask will allow. They also do not need to wear them while alone in their vehicles. Directly below is a quote from the Labor & Industries (L&I) website explaining how and when officers need to wear their masks.
What about police? Should they wear (or not wear) cloth face coverings in a car alone, on the beat, and other situations?
As a general rule, cloth face coverings should be worn when not working alone. When interacting with the public, masks should be worn, but other public safety concerns may necessitate removing the mask for improved communication or to avoid the mask being a hazard. An individual alone in a car is permitted to not wear a facial covering. Two officers in a car is likely medium risk and a covering must be worn; other situations may need to be evaluated. Masks or face coverings are required when law enforcement officers are in a station house or other administrative building with frequent in-person interactions.”
For more information about masks, click the link below to L&I:
Will I be arrested/fined for not wearing a mask?
The Police Department has received questions from the public regarding if Kent PD is going to enforce the Governor’s directive and arrest people for not wearing a mask. Here is the bottom line. We will continue to educate regarding the use of masks in public. Borrowed from WSP, our stance is the same: “The statewide face covering order is a public health and safety measure. It is not a mandate for law enforcement to detain, cite or arrest violators but rather an evidence-based and safety-focused directive meant to slow the spread of a potentially deadly disease.” The Kent Police Department will continue to communicate with, and courage all Washingtonians to make safety-focused decisions that follow the health-based directives from the governor as well as state and local health officials.