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March 2022: Washington Department of Public Health and King County Lift Mask Mandate

15 Mar


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Washington and King County, Washington

What happened?
On February 28, 2022, Governor Inslee announced that Washington is entering a less restrictive phase of the COVID-19 response and King County, Washington, has also reduced restrictions.

What are the details?
Beginning March 21, 2022, the state will no longer mandate face coverings indoors in businesses, grocery stores, retail establishments, restaurants, bars, gyms, recreational centers, indoor athletic facilities, schools, childcare facilities, libraries, or houses of worship. However, private businesses can still choose to require employees, customers, or residents to wear face coverings.

Even after March 21, 2022, the general mask requirement will continue in healthcare settings (such as hospitals, outpatient facilities, and dental offices), long-term care settings, public transit, taxis, rideshare vehicles, and correctional facilities. Federal law still requires face coverings in certain settings, such as public transportation and school buses. Unvaccinated workers also must continue to wear masks indoors at job sites until further notice.

The Secretary of Health also amended its statewide facemask order (Order 20-03.7) to immediately lift the mask requirement for outdoor events or gatherings attended by at least 500 people.

Beginning March 1, 2022, statewide vaccine verification for large events will no longer be required. No other changes to state vaccination rules have been announced.

King County also announced that, beginning March 1, 2022, restaurants, bars, theaters, and gyms will no longer be required to check the vaccination status of their patrons. Businesses will be free to impose their own vaccination requirements if they choose, but the countywide requirement will disappear. The same is true for outdoor events in King County with more than 500 people, like concerts and sporting events.

All violations of state proclamations are subject to criminal penalties (as is the case with all of the governor’s recent proclamations).

Unvaccinated workers also must continue to wear masks indoors at job sites until further notice.

For more information, please see the links below:

Governor Jay Inslee Statement

Order 20-03.7

King County Masking Guidance


What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above, reach out to local health departments for guidance, and continue to do their best to ensure the safety of their employees and guests.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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