Submitted by Ron Krebs, San Juan County Sheriff.
On Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, at approximately 4 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to The Friday Harbor Marketplace on San Juan Island after employees called to report patrons refusing to follow the clearly posted signs for the county and state COVID-19 mask mandate.
Subsequently, two individuals were permanently trespassed from all Valmark properties including Marketplace, King’s and San Juan Brewery after failing to comply.
Our local businesses are following the current mask mandates and other COVID-19 guidelines placed on the citizens of San Juan County by State and local health authorities. Businesses do not set them or have any control over what is required. Even after the mandates are lifted, they may choose to keep their own masking requirement as a condition for service in their businesses. They have the right to do this for as long as it makes their staff and patrons feel safe. Under no circumstances should business owners and hardworking their employees be harassed, made to feel unsafe or in any other way be made uncomfortable for following current COVID-19 guidelines or individual store policies. We have long abided by no shirt, no shoes, no service. Our new norm is now no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. It is your choice whether you follow the guidelines and their choice to deny you service if you fail to comply.
As such, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to calls of harassment from our local businesses and will, at their request, trespass those individuals who choose not to follow the mandate or who threaten and intimidate patrons and employees.
We will also support the right to peaceful protests against the mandates, as we have in the past, with the #MeToo Movement, BLM, the Women’s Movement and anti-immigration marches. We will not, however, tolerate a protest that intimidates or bullies business owners, patrons or citizens.
For those wishing to further express their displeasure about COVID-19 mandates, the appropriate avenue would be to contact the county health director Frank James, M.D., the San Juan County Council members, and Gov. Jay Inslee. These individuals have the ability to effectuate change in the mandates, not local businesses or their employees.
Finally, as a United States Marine veteran, I served to uphold the freedoms and rights of our country, freedoms and rights that allow for more than one point of view whether it is the same as mine or not. But, a point of view does not justify breaking laws. I implore that whatever your feelings are about the COVID-19 mandates, that you respect one another, allow for individual opinion, peaceable protest, and the right to make your own decisions, without threats or intimidation on either side, as we wait for our country to return to normal.