Statement from Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington:
“We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.”
In Washington, indoor mask requirements will be lifted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.
Statement from Dr Jeff Duchin (Health Officer, Public Health), Seattle & King County:
With new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing, and nearly 80% of all King County residents fully vaccinated, King County is ending the local health order requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for entry into restaurants and bars, indoor recreational events and establishments, or outdoor events. The vaccination verification policy will no longer be in effect as of March 1. Businesses and organizations may continue to implement their own vaccination verification rules for their establishments.
“We announced the vaccination verification policy in anticipation of a fall and winter surge in cases. The intent was to reduce COVID-19 transmission in high-risk indoor settings and thereby reduce the burden on our hospitals, while providing time for more people to get fully vaccinated. Following the record-breaking Omicron surge, we have seen a steady reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and hospital capacity is improving. In addition, since this policy was adopted, over one-quarter of a million King County residents have gotten vaccinated, increasing to nearly 80% the proportion of King County residents who are now fully vaccinated, and to 92% the proportion of those eligible who have started the vaccination series.”
“Although our mandatory vaccine verification requirement is ending, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain elevated and layered COVID-19 prevention remains important. Everyone should continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 risk, including getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible, using high quality, well-fitting face masks, improving indoor air quality through ventilation and filtration, and limiting time in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Businesses should continue to support employees in getting vaccinated and staying home when sick.”