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No mask, no service: Washington businesses must turn away customers without masks starting Tuesday

Washington businesses that do not comply could be faced with enforcement actions such as fines or forced closures.

SPOKANE, Wash. — No mask, no service. That's the policy that will be in effect for Washington businesses beginning Tuesday, July 7. 

Gov. Jay Inslee announced his new proclamation, which requires Washington businesses to turn away customers who aren't wearing a face mask, at a press conference on Thursday.

The proclamation comes almost a week after Inslee's statewide mandate requiring people to wear face masks while in public indoors and outdoors where six feet of social distancing is not possible.

"When we wear a mask, it is a signal about something about us, it is a signal we care about the community, we care about our loved ones, we care about those we are doing business with," Gov. Inslee said. 

RELATED: What counts as a medical exception to Washington's mask requirement?

Inslee said he's optimistic that the vast majority of Washingtonians and Washington businesses will comply with this new order, however, businesses that do not comply could be faced with enforcement actions such as fines or forced closures.  

Gov. Inslee also announced on Thursday the state is putting a two-week pause on counties moving to their next phases of reopening due to a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Benton-Franklin health officer issues directive on Wednesday

Dr. Amy Person, health officer for the Benton-Franklin Health District, previously issued a directive on Wednesday for businesses to require use of face coverings or refuse service to reduce coronavirus spread. 

“Our rise in positive COVID-19 cases is concerning, and although Spokane County is not at the level of Benton-Franklin County yet, we do not want to see it get there either," Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said in response.

The directive in Benton and Franklin Counties was issued at the request of local city and county leaders.

Benton and Franklin Counties have reported more than 3,700 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began. The combined population of both counties sits near 300,000.

Both counties, along with Yakima County, are still in Phase 1 of the state's reopening plan. 

RELATED: Yakima County hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

A large amount of the cases are reported in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick, which make up the Tri-Cities. 

Spokane County, with a population over 500,000, has reported 1,730 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

More than 50% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Benton and Franklin Counties are Hispanic, while about 20% of people who have tested positive are white. 

RELATED: Spokane health officials fear COVID-19 spike after July 4. Here's a look at data from past holidays

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