Washington state flower shop fined $4K for mask violation

MALTBY, Wash. (AP) — The owner of a plant nursery in Washington state has been fined $4,200 for failing to ensure a safe workplace and potentially exposing employees to the coronavirus after preventing them from wearing masks.

The state Department of Labor and Industries cited Flower World last week for violating state guidelines intended to limit the spread of COVID-19, including not requiring masks or face coverings, not practicing social distancing and not conducting employee temperature checks, The Daily Herald reported.

Inspectors visited the Maltby business three times between June 15 and 26 and discovered multiple violations of state regulations, including a state mask mandate implemented by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, authorities said.

Employees received a letter with their paychecks in early June saying they were not allowed to wear masks because owner John Postema believed masks would be a hazard for long hours in hot weather.

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The business has 15 days to appeal.

“Flower World has told us they plan to comply, and we have been on site once and verified they are following the rules,” department spokesman Tim Church said.

Owner Postema could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday, but an employee at the business told The Associated Press that he would be left a message.

Postema previously told the Herald in June that he planned to challenge the legality of the mask mandate “based on the rational(e) that face masks do not protect our employees and is in conflict with” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.