Pullman Police to enforce mask mandate with education, warnings

Officers will write tickets for flagrant or intentional violations; masks must be worn inside any building

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

A public health order from John Wiesman, Washington Secretary of Health, requires every individual in the state, starting today, to wear a face covering or receive potential penalties.

Individuals who do not comply with the order could be charged with a misdemeanor under RCW 70.05.120, said Jessica Baggett, public information officer for Washington State Department of Health. 

Local law enforcement will be charged with enforcing the order, she said. 

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins sent out an email to PPD officers instructing them to approach enforcement first by educating people about the mandate, then using warnings, said Penni Reavis, PPD support services manager. 

Officers are not looking to write tickets for mask violations, Reavis said. They will only do so for flagrant or intentional violations. 

Face coverings are required inside any building — including healthcare facilities — and outdoors where social distancing is not possible, Baggett said. This would apply while standing in line at a bus stop, for instance, but not on a trail where there are no other people. 

“We hope that most people will wear face coverings to protect the health of their friends, family and loved ones,” she said. 

Face coverings can prevent droplets from being released into the air by coughing, sneezing, talking or breathing, Baggett said. Coverings must cover the mouth and nose, but can be made of a variety of materials as long as they meet those two requirements.

“For the general public, we’re recommending a cloth face covering, scarf, bandanna, anything like that that allows you to keep those droplets to yourself,” Baggett said.  

Baggett said the order will last indefinitely, but the public will be informed when it does end.

“If we want to continue to move forward and get back to the normal life that we used to have,” Baggett said, “[face coverings are] just one more tool we can use to protect our community.”