Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

COVID-19

News >  Business

Washington officials fine area businesses for failing to follow mask mandates

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 8, 2020

Viking Sewing Center & Vacuums in Spokane Valley has been cited by the state for mask noncompliance. In July, it posted a sign, shown here, that read: “MASK FREE ZONE ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!”  (Thomas Clouse/The Spokesman-Review)
Viking Sewing Center & Vacuums in Spokane Valley has been cited by the state for mask noncompliance. In July, it posted a sign, shown here, that read: “MASK FREE ZONE ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!” (Thomas Clouse/The Spokesman-Review)
By Thomas Clouse The Spokesman-Review

While most Washington businesses have complied with Gov. Jay Inslee’s July mandate to require employees and customers to wear masks, several in the Spokane area have received fines, even after site visits and warnings.

Since the middle of July, the Department of Labor & Industries has looked into mask complaints that were received regarding more than 4,200 retailers, restaurants and other businesses, L&I spokesman Tim Church said in a news release.

“Wearing masks helps protect workers and others by reducing exposure to the virus in our communities so we can reduce fatalities and the impact to our health care system,” Anne Soiza, an assistant director for L&I, said in a news release. “Our goal is to get employers to comply with mask requirements through education and assistance, but if that doesn’t work they can be cited and fined.”

In the vast majority of cases, the businesses that were violating the rules complied after L&I staff explained the requirement, Church said. But eight businesses received fines after refusing to follow the public mask mandate. Three other businesses were cited after mask complaints led to the state inspectors finding workers failing to comply with the mandate.

Of those 11 companies cited in the state, seven are located in the Spokane area or Eastern Washington. Of those seven businesses, three are Zip’s Drive-In restaurants.

In each case, the business owners have appealed the fines. The businesses cited by the state include:

• Viking Sewing Center & Vacuums in Spokane Valley was fined $5,700 for four violations. The business owners did not require customers or employees to wear masks and they displayed a sign at entrance stating, “mask free zone, enter at your own risk.”

• Zip’s Drive-In Restaurants Inc. in Spokane Valley was fined $4,800 or three violations. The business owners did not require customers to wear a mask and employees were found improperly wearing masks below their chins. The business also did not post signs requiring masks for customers.

• Zip’s Drive-In in Ritzville was fined $2,400 for two violations. The business owners did not require customers to wear a mask, they did not post signs requiring customers wear masks, and had no policy if they refused. The owners also did not install social-distancing markers or barriers between front-counter workers and customers.

• Zip’s Drive-In in Colfax was fined $1,800 for three violations. The business owners did not require customers to wear masks and did not post signs requiring masks for customers. They also failed to install social-distancing markers for customers.

• Penhallurick’s True Value in Moses Lake was fined $1,500 for one violation. The business was found to have employees not wearing masks, and the business owners did not require customers to wear masks. They also failed to post signs requiring customers to wear masks.

• Kalico Kitchen in Spokane was fined $2,400 for one violation. Employees were found to be not wearing masks or they were wearing them incorrectly within 6 feet of each other.

• American Tire Depot in Spokane was fined $1,800 for one violation. Employees were found to be not wearing masks. The manager told state inspectors that he was “not going to be shamed into wearing a mask.”

In a story published July 24, the owner of Viking Sewing Center, Ed Rosell told The Spokesman-Review that he put up a sign that states “MASK FREE ZONE ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!” because he didn’t believe he needed to follow Inslee’s directive, which was put in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“We are choosing not to follow the governor’s recommendation requiring customers to wear masks,” Rosell said. “We have a lot of older customers. The response for about 90% of them is, ‘Thank you.’”

Rosell could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment. But in the July interview, he said he had worked 16 years as a nurse and he did not believe the case numbers he hears about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We feel like we are smart enough to social distance. Washing hands and social distancing should be more than adequate,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”

The business, which has been at 9807 E. Sprague Ave. since 1982, has a mostly older clientele, Rosell said.

“Some wear the masks. Some will not,” he said. “It’s a free country, so far.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.