Auburn police won’t bust the unmasked — for the most part

Gov. Jay Inslee’s June 24 proclamation mandated the wearing of a face covering in indoor and outdoor public places to cut the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

But he left enforcement of the edict up to cities.

On Monday, the Auburn City Council decided that siccing the police on violators would not be the best use of the APD’s finite resources. The council approved a resolution that authorizes Mayor Nancy Backus to implement administrative procedures necessary to carry out the directions of the law.

Police may encourage the unmasked to mask, and may suggest the unmasked comply with the law, but that’s pretty much it — except where persons or property are in immediate danger, or when other factors are present that require police to step in.

“As the enforcement is mandated to local jurisdictions, I felt that having police officers issuing citations, arresting people, may not be the thing we need to do on a regular basis,” said Deputy Mayor Claude DaCorsi.

“This resolution does not prohibit our police officers from carrying out activities or actions requiring enforcement. So, if someone is breaking the law, if someone is intentionally on a business property and asked to be an adult (and they refuse), they can be trespassed from the property, or in other circumstances like that that require police intervention …

“It does emphasize that we look at an educational process so people are aware. It’s not just our police department that’s being charged with education. It’s all of our responsibility to educate people, and to let people know that for their protection and others’ protection, this is the right thing to do,” DaCorsi said.

On Jan. 31, 2020, Alex Azar, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, declared a public health emergency for COVID-19.

That order provided that “members of the public are required by law to comply with this order, and violators may be subject to criminal penalties pursuant to state laws and codes.” On Feb. 29, 2020, Inslee issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in all counties of the state of Washington in response to new cases of COVID-19.

Inslee’s June 24 proclamation mandated that “every person in Washington state must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in any indoor or outdoor public setting,” with certain exceptions.

Since July 7, businesses have been required to refuse service to anyone who does not wear a face covering in an indoor or outdoor public setting, and anyone who cannot properly physically distance themselves must wear a mask.

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