BFHD Cannot ‘Force’ Businesses to Deny Non-Mask Customers
This measure is being taken with the hopes that the state will potentially open up more businesses, according to BFHD and other officials.
To some, it's a prudent move. If more people wear masks, perhaps COVID numbers drop, Benton- Franklin County gets to move up to Phase 2 or maybe a Phase 1.5 like King did a few weeks ago.
To others, this appears to be pandering and perhaps even groveling to the state. Mayors and other elected officials and leaders believe masks etc will drive down numbers; there's a solid chance that will happen.
But to others in our communities, it appears to be a desperate effort to 'bend' or comply to the demands of state officials, to seek their favor, so that we can re open more struggling small businesses. By requiring mask compliance, the state will look at our counties more favorably.
It also appears to be a pre-emptive move ahead of a potential no mask no service proclamation that might come from Gov. Inslee in the next few days. During his visit to Pasco-CBC, he hinted it could happen, but did not definitely say.
During his visit, Inslee repeated numerous times, "Mask Up Open Up." It is presumed he and other Health Department officials believe by masking up, numbers go down, businesses open. However, taken at face value, critics claim decisions will be made by determining the level of compliance.
Inslee has said numerous times in press conferences that it's not just "numbers" that determine movement; but also efforts and steps taken by counties to pursue the Safe Start protocol.
Some citizens who have commented to us believe BFHD and area Mayors are pushing this move to avoid any such edict from the state.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the facts are the BFHD cannot legally force a business to deny service to a customer not wearing a mask. According to the Tri-City Herald, Chief Ken Hohenberg of Kennewick said a store could call the police if someone without a mask refuses their request to leave. But that would be more of a "right to refuse service to anyone" type of situation.
A check of the Benton Franklin Health District website Thursday morning shows they have now posted details about the mask requirement.
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