The Port of Seattle became the first governmental entity in the region to roll out a face mask requirement for everyone in public areas on Port property Saturday. SeaTac Airport is included in that mandate. On Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that an ordinance was in the works that would at least cover retail spaces open to the public in Seattle. A number of stores in Seattle, including Costco, already require such masks in order to be in the store.

King County Metro does not require the wearing of face masks while on board, but strongly urges customers to wear them.

At least eight states require the wearing of a face mask in public. This is not new legal territory, as several states had similar mandates on the books during the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic.

While face masks are helpful to protect people around the wearer from getting the virus from the wearer, they are no substitute for a medical grade face mask if the goal is to protect the wearer from getting the virus. Regardless, they are believed to have helped slow the spread of the virus in areas where wearing them in public has been encouraged.

46 Replies to “Face mask laws coming”

  1. Very curious to see if Seattle’s ordinance will require masks in multifamily building hallways and elevators. I’ve read that is a requirement in some NYC buildings, thought that appears to be driven by building management.

    I’d imagine that adding a mask requirement means sit down restaurant openings are much further away, not that I was expecting that to happen. Having a mask exemption for sit down eating would be nonsensical.

    1. Doesn’t appear like masks will be required inside apartment buildings, although that depends on the definition of “indoor public setting.” I’d guess that residential buildings are not considered to be open to the public.

      Also odd that there is no penalty and no law enforcement. Metro drivers are instructed to not deny boarding to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask. Wonder how effective that will be.

      1. Matter of job skills, Alex. Enforcing, demanding, or denying anything to anybody is police officers’ work. And note which side of the “s” the “‘” is on.

        Also requiring that drivers know by reflex and preferably in advance, when and whom to summon. And to what location. Starting with fast concise and accurate report of nature of trouble, number of perpetrators, and most especially any weapons in sight.

        With experience, ability to see trouble developing far enough ahead to, with nobody any the wiser, roll to a smooth stop at the tail-lights of a waiting police car without anybody seeing you pick up the phone. Though modern video should really have everything pertinent on police screens soon as trouble starts.

        David Lawson, how’m I doing?

        Mark Dublin

      2. I am thinking that they didn’t want to make wearing masks on Metro buses mandatory because that force the drivers to become enforcers something that they want to avoid. If they had to be enforcers it could create problems for the drivers as some passengers would resist, become agitated and even become physical and it is the last thing Metro wants and so do the drivers.

        People should wear masks on buses but you don’t want to put the drivers into positions of confronting passengers who don’t.

    2. Since you have to wear a mask outside, it doesn’t seem a big burden to keep your mask on those extra 3 minutes from the unit door to the street door.

      Most apartment buildings have closed common areas, and I assume most condos will do as well to limit any possible liability.

  2. The time for urging is over. Metro and st should have already adopted a no mask, no ride posture. Anecdotally it seems like younger folks are the ones not wearing coverings.

    1. I could just as easily say anecdotally that religious people are the ones not wearing masks, because that’s been my experience.

      Just goes to show how useless anecdotes are for this.

  3. Down in LA, the transit agency had to be forced by its employees to make the ethical decision to require masks. The agency didn’t want to require masks because they wanted to protect the civil liberties of people who didn’t want to wear a mask. (Yes, it really says that in the linked article). Transit employees who complained the agency was putting theirs, and other passengers health in danger, finally forced the agency hand, and starting today, masks will be required.

    1. I heard Dow Constantine on KUOW last week explaining that the county wanted to make sure that enough masks were available before requiring their use on buses. He also talked about hopefully finding a way to provide masks to riders who didn’t have them. While I appreciate his concerns about equity, sometimes government needs to lead and not follow. If you wait until everyone is wearing masks before you require them, then it’s never going to happen. Don’t be a coward and force the issue, Dow, and people will find a way to cover their faces on the bus, even if it means using an old t-shirt.

      1. [ot]

        But give him a call. He’ll definitely back you up on your right not to show us one of those stuffy medical degrees to back up whether a dirty T-shirt might spread more virus than lack of a mask.


      2. While always doing my best to keep discussions [ON TOPIC], I’ll never hesitate to stay [ON RECORD] against attempts to deny transit over matters of income or personal hardship.

        Isn’t it Leadership’s best example in this case to step up and provide something you’re denying service to people for not having? King County is a rich place with a high educational level and a lot of industry.

        How about a challenge from the County Executive’s Office to local trade schools to orient their precision machining training to learning to make those masks?

        Or world-wide- this place enjoys a lot of Trans-Pacific trade- for some industrial area world-wide in need of employment to start providing them?

        While Scripture wisely saith that I shan’t covet another person’s mate, always a good way to get thyself killed and thine whole people and all thy sheep wiped out in clan warfare…is there any chance that Dr. Southworth’s wife hath a sister who can also sew?

        Mark Dublin

    2. Too bad the link didn’t come through, because I’d be really curious to know exactly what civil liberty is being violated by having to wear a face-mask for public safety.

      Sounds suspiciously like the claim that being compelled to take fire-arms training is an infringement on the right of the people to keep and bear arms – which in the Second Amendment’s English referred definitely to service in the armed forces.

      Our country was founded in The Age of Reason, which definitely held that The Public Good occasionally required special efforts on every individual’s part to protect the whole community.

      Meaning that the Village Idiot was always issued a corn-stalk so the poor lad wouldn’t feel left out at “muster”, and little girls were encouraged to find sweet flowers to dissipate the “miasma” that common belief substituted for germs.

      Know that somewhere there had to have been a Goddess of Common Sense. I think it was Athena. Whose representational bird was an owl, doubtless because its facial feathers prefigured horn rimmed glasses.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Please tell me in which Article of the US Constitution one can find “The Public Good occasionally required special efforts on every individual’s part to protect the whole community.”

        I’ll wait.

        You might want to research some of the Founding Fathers and their involvement with viruses/inoculation and why they (Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Washington) didn’t include a caveat that suspends our Constitutional rights during a pandemic.

        As for fire-arms (sic) training, I highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about the #2A and firearm safety (which includes the majority of law-abiding gun owners). Every gun owner I know takes their practice at the range seriously. Unfortunately, the gun-grabbers who wrote I-1639 made it way too easy for folk to obtain firearm training ONLINE. Talk to the ones who wrote that initiative and promoted it in the name of gun safety. It’s a JOKE.

        You don’t have to make nonsensical firearm training laws that include ONLINE certification to convince legal gunowners to take their #2A rights seriously. I wonder if the criminals are doing their compelled online training/certification?

  4. Anyone know where to purchase a comfortable mask? I’ve been using a handmade “single use” one dozens of times and in addition to being ineffective it is extremely uncomfortable to wear.

    1. Splash fabric is a local Seattle company that sells masks. I ordered one yesterday after this new requirement was announced so can’t yet confirm their comfort level but they look promising.

      1. Received and thanks, Glenn. But real-life passenger question still stands. Is Amtrak handing out, or even selling, masks?

        And if not….might there not be some health problem raised by a whole trainload of us sleeping in that admittedly really beautiful lobby ’til next night’s train?

        Based on what I’ve seen of Joey Gibson and his organization (look him up) at Evergreen here in Olympia and in Seattle where he stage-confronted an actor standing on stilts and waving a three story high Chinese flag….

        Before I ever buy a ticket again could please Amtrak get me a mask? Will give them thirty dollars for it.

        Mark Dublin


      Amount of warning here just about “says it”, doesn’t it, Glenn? My Cascades connection from Seattle leaves me no time to shop when I get handed the mask rule instead of my Coast Starlight Boarding Pass to LA.

      Or has the railroad in fact foreseen, giving me my new mask and my boarding pass out of the same welcoming hand? Any chance enforcement tactics could send a lot of liberals to get a new hat from Joey Gibson?

      Mark Dublin

  5. And if any homeless person attempts to board the bus without a mask, the bus driver should be able to call the police and have said homeless person forceably removed! This should solve the issue with the homeless using transit.

    1. Why just homeless people? Are the rates of coronavirus infection any higher among them than among the general populace? What pandemic related factor results in them being more worth exclusion/expulsion than people in general?

      1. @William — I can’t tell if you are being facetious or not. I sure hope you are.

      2. Do you have any evidence to back up the claim of the homeless being diseased? Your belief is clear. I am asking for data, not anecdote.

      3. A Joy, according to a fall 2015 study by the New England journal of medicine, 65 percent of the chronically homeless have at least one communicable disease or parasitic infestation. They must be quarantined in remote areas, where they can be treated and then released to society once they meet certain criteria

      4. You are correct. Chronically homeless individuals represent only 24 percent of the homeless population, however. So out of 11,000 homeless people in Seattle, 1,716 are chronically homeless and with a communicable disease. That seems a far cry from the blanket “The homeless are diseased and need to be forceablyremoved from society during the pandemic.” line you espoused. 15.6% of a group does not justify demonizing 100% of a group.

      1. Soon as I know for sure if I have to wrap my ORCA card in my rental agreement to show Fare Enforcement I have a home.

        Mark Dublin

  6. Let’s get this discussion off of matters of Principle and take it to matters of Masks. Just got off a half-hour series of conversations with my health-care provider, coming away with assurances that one, they’re definitely working on the problem of procuring masks, and that two, they neither have any nor know anybody I can get one from.

    Admit I’m too terminally un-woke for the Judgement Day to get me up for work, so guess I can face the news that for the last twenty years, Lake Washington Tech has been sending everybody of both genders with an ORCA card out the door, equipped with a sewing machine and skills to use it making surgical-grade products.

    Grief, I’ll go you one better and demand that NOBODY gets on a transit vehicle without basic Personal Protective Equipment. Soon as you can tell me where the budget’s going to come from to train Enforcers, whom Local 587 had better not allow to be Drivers, how to recognize a mask from a Husky hat. Which might actually work if turned facing backwards.

    Would also make your case a lot stronger if you’d additionally advocate for our whole State’s transit industry to take over thousands of swiftly-closing factories and begin employing the blameless jobless to make the gear I’ll be glad to join you in demanding.

    No matter how fast Seattle is Dying, can’t that be EVERY machine shop state-wide has already been demolished as well as abandoned. At one stroke, we’ll have created thousands of passengers who are also employed taxpayers.

    And meantime, one truth and one favor. After losing my temper in public over being scolded by as shop-keeper for not having the mask I’d been spending all morning trying to find, a very kind young man gave me three brand new little white masks that somebody had given him. At least they look really clean. So do me this one:

    If I can assemble enough of a group that IT’s Advance Reserve service can get us a bus to Tacoma in two days, can you promise me that if Link’s now fareless Fare Enforcement lets my mask pask, I’ll still be able to get out of Ballard if D-line Disagrees that my mask meets muster?

    Mark Dublin

  7. Can someone answer this question? A wheelchair passenger without a mask boards, gets to the wheelchair area on the bus, then starts coughing or sneezing. The driver hasn’t yet secured his wheelchair. What should the driver do?

    1. Say “God Bless You?” after a sneeze?

      It’s allergy season. And people get colds. Calm down.

  8. Would someone knowledgeable please answer Sam’s question?

    Mark Dublin

  9. Where do you get masks? I’ve asked multiple times at Bartell’s and they’re out. I’m surprised they’re haven’t been locally-made masks in retail stores or by sidewalk vendors. I saw one sidewalk vendor with masks on mannequin heads, but I don’t remember whether I saw it in person or only in a picture. It must have been a picture because I probably would have bought one if I’d seen it in person.

    I’m particularly interested in colored decorative masks, not hospital white. There are some online vendors but I don’t know which are reliable and which are a scam. And I prefer to avoid online ordering and the big corporations.

    I have one professional cloth mask somebody gave me, and a repurposed eye mask. I have towels and elastic and a needle and thread but I’ve been procrastinating making one because I’m a mediocre amateur and am afraid of frustration at it not fitting right or falling apart right away.

    1. I know you said that you prefer to avoid online ordering and the big corporations, but I think that a one-time exception could be made in order to help protect yourself (I can understand that you might feel differently, though).

      I find that artisanal masks are also prone to not fitting well. We had a couple made by family members and they are far too big except to cover other masks made professionally. I have debated trying to make some out of old bed sheets, since that would give me enough material to experiment and get the custom size right. I can also appreciate (and empathize) with that feeling of frustration, though.

      1. I posted a link about a week or so ago that had all manner of masks available on Amazon. The ones designed specifically for urban cycling seem like the best bet. How often you go out will guide how many masks you need. Ideally you wash between uses or at least leave exposed to sunlight which is said to kill the virus. I wonder if a UV light like the kind used to find cat pee would work?

      2. I know of people who are using those sorts of UV lights, but I have not seen any study that justifies personal use of such sterilization methods (and official guidance seems to be that it requires specific processes that are hard to obtain in the non-commercial space). Your mileage may vary.

        With fabric/reusable masks, advice from family members who work in the medical space has been to just wash between uses, and that seems to align with what I read from more official sources, too. Same family members suggested to have a supply of at least 5 masks, so one could be used every day of the (work) week with sufficient time for cleaning and any desired UV exposure after the fact. I know that some people do this even with ostensibly non-reusable (e.g. N95) masks, too, but again, hard to tell how reliable this method really is. I try to be overly cautious and would not 100% rely on any single method of contamination prevention (in either direction). And I would definitely not rely solely on random blog commenters like me, who have no explicit medical training :)

    2. I’m making some concessions. I normally pay cash but I haven’t since mid-March, and I sometimes order things from Amazon as a last resort. This mask is disposable; I want reusable. I look at the parent category and found a few reusable masks. They’re all black, which is at least better than hospital white. My concern now is which vendors are reliable. I trust Amazon’s fulfillment but I’ve heard some third-party Amazon storefronts have covid-product scams where they take your money and don’t ship anything or ship something very different from the ad. The ones I looked at don’t say whether they’re fulfilled by Amazon, so does that mean they are, or what do you look for? Has anyone had good luck with particular brands or vendors?

      1. Sorry, I missed the “reusable” part. You are correct that these would not work, then. Unfortunately I did not look for reusable ones myself so I do not have a link handy.

        As far as how to prioritize reliable shipments, my general approach is to buy only items that are listed as “Shipped and sold from” (i.e. the actual seller is Amazon, not just the shipper of record). If that does not work and I really need something, I would concede to buying a third-party item sold directly by the manufacturer, and where the manufacturer has good ratings on Amazon (generally close to 100%, at least 96-97%) and the item has good customer reviews (4.0 stars or higher average) with a lot of reviews in the “Before Times”. I did that with the pulse oximeter I bought, for example.

        If you do find an online reseller for reusable masks that you are happy with, I would be interested in getting a link as well. I bought the one-time masks for emergencies only – essentially for going in areas where risk of overall cross-exposure is high and I want to be absolutely sure I won’t accidentally cause any problem (e.g. doctor offices).

      2. I’ve bought a few different masks on eBay. If it were me I’d aim for the reusable cloth masks that you can put a disposable PM2.5 filter in. So, if you are in a situation where you want finer than normal filtering (say, close quarters shopping in a grocery store) you can slip a filter in.

      3. I see on the right it says “Sold by X and fulfilled by Amazon.” I assume Amazon-sold products have a minimum quality review but I’m not sure about these hybrid products. As for comments, sometimes they are contradictory. Some people say it’s awful and the vendor is unresponsive, others say it’s wonderful and the vendor is responsive, and I don’t know what to believe. I usually avoid those.

      4. @Mike Orr: yeah, those “sold by X and fulfilled by Amazon” I tend to stay away from as well, unless (as I mentioned earlier) X is the manufacturer and the reviews are consistently positive. There will always be some negative reviews – some can be from competitors, some are probably left by people buying counterfeit products, some are valid. So I tend to use my best judgement and instinct – I think that you can also trust yours, especially with something relatively important, like a well-built mask.

        I hope you find something you can use and rely on.

    3. If you can’t buy masks, just make a quick t-shirt mask. They’re more effective than wearing a scarf.

      You’re cutting it out yourself, so shouldn’t be any issues with the mask not fitting well. And the ear slots mean you don’t have to worry about anything ripping apart.

      And it’s reusable, just toss it in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry.

  10. Just after I posted that question, Sam, I called KCM information and asked the same question. Young woman’s answer? “We’re looking at unprecedented conditions, and just trying to do the best we can.” Legal definition of “precedent”, I really don’t think she had in mind.


    Mark Dublin

    1. From accounts I’ve read of the Boston Marathon bombing, when the second pressure-cooking bomb went off, survivors attending to victims of the first ducked and kept at their work, rather than running away.

      Action Without Orders. Anybody know enough Latin to put that on a monument for a National motto?

      Mark Dublin

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