Currently, we are in Phase 1 of Washington State’s Safe Start approach to reopening the state for business. The Safe Start approach provides guidelines and requirements for businesses to operate safely. As we work towards Phase 2, these guidelines and requirements will likely change.
We know it can be concerning and frustrating for some of us when community members or businesses don’t follow the guidance and recommendations of health experts like the Washington State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We share your concerns. Here’s what you should know about enforcement for these recommendations.
I see people in public not wearing masks. What should I do?
- Wearing cloth masks is strongly recommended in public settings. Masks provide additional protection against transmitting the virus in public spaces when you are not able to maintain 6 feet of distance.
- Some businesses have policies that require that employees or customers use masks. You can contact the business before you go to ask about mask requirements. Always carry a clean mask with you in case you need one.
- Everyone is showing care for others in our community by wearing a cloth mask, especially in public places where it is hard to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more, and it is making a difference.
I went to a store that was not following safety recommendations. What should I do?
- The Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries are providing coronavirus-specific guidance to essential businesses on maintaining safe conditions at:
- The Whatcom County Health Department provides guidance for businesses and restaurants.
- You can report violations if businesses are not following safety recommendations.
I’ve seen businesses open that aren’t listed as essential. What should I do?
- The State has outlined a Safe Start Plan for Washington State, including a phased approach to reopening businesses and other activities safely.
- You can report violations if businesses are open in violation of the current orders. Please review the current list of what’s open and what’s closed to ensure the business should be closed before submitting your form.
I see people hanging out, not wearing masks, or gathering in parks. What should I do?
At this time, many parks and trails remain open but facilities (other than restrooms) are closed. Gathering in parks is not advised. Read more about recommendations for keeping our open spaces safe places.
- The City of Bellingham is using Park Ambassadors to educate and greet park visitors. They are kindly reminding visitors of physical distancing and other guidelines so parks can continue to be open and safe for all. Park Ambassadors are monitoring parks 7 days a week, to ensure groups are not gathering, picnicking, sunbathing, playing sports, or using closed park amenities.
- If you have concerns about a specific park, contact the local parks department.
I see fellow community members not complying with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation. What should I do?
- Complaints regarding individuals or private groups who are not following the proclamation should be reported to the local law enforcement agency who will respond based on their policies and resources.
- Avoid making assumptions or judgments about fellow citizens. This is a stressful situation for all of us, and we can all practice empathy and understanding. Shame and blame will only create community division at a time we need to be connected and supportive. You can only control your own actions so make sure that you are taking steps to keep yourself, your friends and your family safe.
To stay up to date with Public Health News, or information about the Safe Start approach, including guidelines for each type of business that has been reopening, visit the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 website, or the Washington State Safe Start website.