I complained yesterday that the OHA wasn’t ready on masking requirements. Given what they announced today, they should have taken more time.
The new rule applies to pharmacies, public-transit agencies, barbershops, spas, salons, massage therapists, tattoo parlors, grocery stores, retailers, ride-sharing services, and indoor entertainment facilities. Volunteers, customers and visitors entering these businesses will all be required to wear face coverings while inside, under the rule.
While the rule also covers bars, breweries, wineries and restaurants, it makes exceptions for while people are eating and drinking. The rule also includes gyms, martial arts centers and pools. But it makes exceptions for when the mask requirement isn’t feasible, such as strenuous physical exercise, singing or playing an instrument as long as the person can maintain at least six feet of distance from others.
Strenuous physical exercise, singing, and playing instruments are exactly the wrong things to exempt. These are high transmission events and six feet of distance in shared respiratory space indoors almost guarantees a viral spread. This is nuts.
The rule makes further exceptions required by disability, labor or accommodation laws. Children under 12 are exempted from the requirements, as are people with medical conditions that make it hard to breathe when wearing a mask. People with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask or face shield are also exempted.
I have no idea why we’d exempt kids under 12. I’d exempt infants of course, but from toddler age on up, I’d have them masked. Even if that’s too young, surely by grade school kids are capable of doing this without adult supervision or intervention. Through age 12 is a stunning exemption. I’m not aware of any science that supports this.
At a news conference on Thursday, Brown said that businesses can refuse entry to people not wearing a mask. While the order is enforceable, Brown indicated she’s not intending to arrest or ticket people.
I will say this again: Without an enforcement mechanism, Brown’s order is a suggestion—one that’s being left up to businesses to enforce. I guess we’ll see what level of compliance we get.