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Free Seattle webinar provides de-escalation training for businesses enforcing proof of vaccination

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is holding the webinar for all businesses on Wednesday.

SEATTLE — The burden of enforcing policies relating to masks and vaccine requirements has fallen on private businesses ever since the onset of the pandemic, according to several business owners.

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is providing additional guidance on how to interact with customers under the current mandates.

The group is hosting a free, virtual webinar on "de-escalation" strategies and how to manage interpersonal interactions with customers while enforcing mask and vaccination verification mandates.

"We really want staff to feel confident asking customers to do what they need to do, whether that's to wear a mask, or show proof of vaccination," Chamber CEO Rachel Smith said.

The training, scheduled for Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. on the Chamber of Commerce website, comes weeks after King County implemented the requirements.

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Since October 25, King County requires people 12 and older to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter indoor dining establishments, bars, gyms, and certain sporting and entertainment events.

"The last thing any of our businesses want to do is turn a customer away," Smith said.

Brian Thiel, co-owner and co-founder of Ghostfish Brewing Company in SoDo, welcomes such training.

"Any resources that we can get our hands on that's going to help educate us, help motivate us, and point us in the right direction... If there are best practices that we can learn from other businesses," Thiel said.

He has encountered out-of-town visitors who were unaware of needing to show proof of vaccination. But beyond that, has not met resistance from customers. Instead, Thiel said many of his patrons embraced the rule as it made them feel safer.

"Having people in here, you know, what we've got tonight, is how you know we really survive and grow," Thiel said.

Public Health - Seattle & King County is helping oversee the county's proof of vaccination requirement, which is not expected to be permanent.

Regarding enforcement, the health department's website says the county will focus on education and outreach when it comes to enforcing the order.

But in extreme cases, the public health department said they will intervene.

"If there are complaints of patrons or businesses egregiously not following the order, County officials will contact businesses and event organizers and take action as feasible. King County is working to develop a process for submitting complaints, defining egregious non-compliance, and building a compliance plan into event permit applications," the FAQ information said.

There have been some extreme cases.  

Seattle Police said they are investigating a stabbing at a gas station on North Northgate Way near Meridian Avenue that happened Monday night after the clerk asked a man to wear a face-covering before entering. 

SPD said the man stabbed the clerk in the chest and the stomach area before getting away. The clerk was treated at Harborview Medical Center, according to SPD.

At last check, police are still looking for the person.