New directive for employees to wear cloth face masks
Effective Wednesday, May 13, all Executive Branch employees must wear face coverings over their noses and mouths if they are likely to be in contact with another individual and distancing of six feet is not able to be maintained, per the Public Health Directive from the Seattle & King County Public Health Officer. The only exceptions are:
- Any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face covering;
- Any individual who is deaf and uses facial and mouth movements as part of communication;
- Any individual who has been advised by a medical professional that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to that individual health related reasons;
- Any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
This applies to Executive Branch employees. Employees in other branches of County government (definitions below) will receive guidance from their leaders.
Because it is still important to conserve medical-grade or N95 respirators for health care workers, unless a particular health reason requires it, individuals should use county provided cloth masks or substantially similar masks in the workplace. Cloth face masks must be worn properly in order to avoid contaminating the hands or face of the user. Here is how to properly wear a mask.
The County has cloth masks available for all employees to use in the workplace. Individuals should use County-provided cloth masks or their own substantially similar cloth masks in the workplace. Face coverings must be workplace-appropriate and cannot feature political or offensive images or content.
We acknowledge that some individuals who are members of communities historically and currently discriminated against may experience anxiety and fear about wearing face coverings. King County is committed to maintaining a respectful, productive, inclusive, and equitable workplace, and discrimination and other conduct that is inconsistent with that will not be tolerated. In this unprecedented time, when individuals can be infected and contagious before or without symptoms, and evidence suggests a significant number of infections may be transmitted this way, face coverings must be worn to prevent inadvertently spreading COVID-19 while interacting with others. If employees will be in close contact with the public and have concerns about being discriminated against while wearing face coverings, they should speak to their HR Manager about ways to clearly identify them as a King County employee. However, even with identification, we fully acknowledge that the anxiety and fear for members of historically and currently discriminated against communities are real and these steps alone cannot change that. We, through your supervisor or HR Manager, are committed to working with you to making sure that everyone stays healthy and safe.
Executive Branch departments: Department of Assessments, Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, Department of Executive Services, Department of Community and Human Services, Department of Human Resources, Department of Judicial Administration, Department of Local Services, Department of Metro Transit, Department of Natural Resources and Park, Department of Public Defense, Department of Public Health, Executive Department, King County Elections, King County Sheriff’s Office (The King County Sheriff’s Office is administered by the King County Sheriff).
Other branches of County government: District Court, King County Council, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Superior Court.