‘Do I need to…?’

Frequently asked questions on cloth face coverings

Submitted by Washington State Department of Health.

As part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan, which began June 8, all employees are required to wear a cloth face covering, mask, or respirator depending on their type of work. There are some exceptions, including when working alone in certain settings, when a job has no in-person interaction, and for people with a medical condition or disability that makes wearing a face-covering inappropriate. Businesses are also encouraged to require customers to wear cloth face coverings in order to protect their employees from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to wear a mask?

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets we all expel when as we cough, sneeze, speak, or even breathe. Covering your mouth and nose keeps these droplets to yourself. This is especially important if you are going to be less than six feet from other people. No single action completely stops the spread of the virus. In addition to consistently using cloth face coverings when we leave home, we also must continue to wash our hands often with soap and water, stay home if we feel sick, and stay six feet away from others whenever possible.

What should I do if I see someone not wearing a mask?

Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face-covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your mask and stay six feet away.

When do I not have to wear a mask?

You do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are in your own home or in your car if you are only with people in your own household. You also do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are exercising outdoors and you have plenty of space. It’s a good idea to keep one in your pocket, though, in case you end up running into someone on the trail.

I’d like to make my own! What kind of fabric should I use?

Use a tight weave, cotton fabric. The kind of fabrics used for shirts or quilting work well. Heavier cotton (upholstery weight, denim, twill, etc.) are uncomfortable to wear and hard to breathe through. If you’re really crafty, try making one with that allows others to see your lips as you speak! It’s really helpful to people who are hard of hearing. Here are some instructions https://www.hsdc.org/accessible-deaf-friendly-face-mask/.

I definitely don’t want to make my own. What’s the absolute easiest way to do this?

Cloth face coverings do not need to be complicated or expensive. Save medical masks and respirators for health care workers and others in high-risk settings. The absolute easiest way to do this is to take a scarf or any breathable, washable fabric, and wrap it around your face so that a couple of layers of fabric are completely covering your mouth and nose.

Practice compassion. COVID-19 continues to be a very real threat. Consistently wearing a cloth face-covering in public is a simple and important way you can protect others.