- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Pullman, Washington, Police Department on Wednesday informed residents that they face a fine up to $5,000 and a year in jail if they violate Gov. Jay Inslee’s face mask order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Police Chief Gary Jenkins issued a press release Wednesday saying he would begin enforcing criminal charges against people who violate the governor’s proclamations to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“There is no question that the proclamations have caused a significant disruption in all of our lives, but the trade-off is the health and safety of our community,” Chief Jenkins said in the release. “We stand between those who are law-abiding and those whose actions risk the health and safety of others. Violations of the Governor’s proclamations not only put the violator’s health at risk, but the health of our entire community.”

Individuals violating the governor’s proclamation requirement by not wearing a mask in indoor and outdoor public spaces could be charged with a gross misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail, the release stated.

Individuals violating an order issued by the local or state Board of Health could receive a $100 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

A person allowing a gathering of more than 10 people could face a $250 fine, and “failure to disperse” such a gathering could result in a misdemeanor charge and 90 days in jail.

“Our approach has really been education and warning and that has been fairly successful to achieve compliance,” Chief Jenkins told The Spokesman-Review. “In the past couple of weeks we have seen an increase of gatherings and parties and that has coincided with WSU students returning for the academic year.”

Chief Jenkins said police have yet to cite anyone for a violation but will do so after alerting the public of the new enforcement.

“We wanted to make sure we informed the public before we transitioned to more of an enforcement mode,” he said.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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