State announces changes to mask requirement

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Gov. Jay Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that most indoor masking requirements will lift March 21, 2022 thanks to dropping hospitalization rates, improving vaccination rates, and broad access to masks and tests.

“The virus has changed significantly over the past two years, and so has our ability to fight it. While caution is still needed, we are entering a new phase of the pandemic,” Inslee said. 
“Vaccination remains our most essential protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19. 
"It’s also crucial to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed again. If you’ve been procrastinating, now is the time to get the shot.”

Inslee was joined in the announcement by Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, Department of Health Secretary Umair Shah, and Department of Health Deputy Secretary Lacy Fehrenbach.

“Our students, educators and school employees, and families have been incredibly resilient as we’ve navigated the impacts of the pandemic,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. 

“Our efforts over the past two years have led us to this moment. Nearly all of our school employees are vaccinated, the number of vaccinated students increases each day, and we have one of the most robust COVID-19 school testing programs in the country. Moving away from a statewide mask mandate to masks being encouraged is a safe next step as we move from pandemic to endemic.”

Beginning March 21, face masks will no longer be required in most settings, including K-12 schools and childcare facilities. Masks will still be required in health care settings such as hospitals, outpatient and dental offices, long term care settings, and correctional facilities. 

In addition, beginning March 1, vaccine verification for large events will no longer be required.

Businesses and local governments can still choose to implement vaccination or face mask requirements for workers or customers, and school districts can still choose to have students and teachers wear masks. 

Federal law still requires face masks in certain settings such as public transportation and school buses.


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