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Masks Now Required At Washington Workplaces

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A new rule requiring employees in Washington to wear masks in the workplace took effect today.

“It’s stratified by going from essentially very low risk to high risk," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz at a media briefing. "What’s very low risk? Essentially, you’re outside, you’re an employee outside. You’re going to and from work. You’re telecommuting. You don’t have to wear a mask if you’re at home," Lutz said.

“If you’re custodial staff, a mechanic, light manufacturing jobs, again, where you are working separately, you’re not in close proximity from somebody, that’s a low-risk job. The encouragement is to wear a reusable cloth face covering. Medium risk? Medium risk includes things like field workers who are being transported to a planting site, manicurists, hair salons," Lutz said.

Those people are encouraged to wear disposable masks. High risk workers, such as dentists and hygienists, are required to wear masks with respirators. Employees in very high risk jobs, many health care workers and emergency medical technicians, are asked to wear federally-approved N-95 masks.

Department of Labor and Industries spokesman Tim Church says employers must provide masks for their workers or they can use their own. He says companies that fail to follow the law could be ticketed and fined.