State reopening set for Wednesday, but don’t ditch your mask

Public transit riders are still required to wear a mask. (Photo courtesy Sound Transit)

As Washington State officially prepares to reopen Wednesday after residents have spent more than a year living with COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Jay Inslee said the state still has “work to do” and the State Department of Health reminds people that masks will still be required in some places.

“Washington has come a long way since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country was found in our state January 2020, and that is in no small part due to Washingtonians’ dedication and resilience in protecting themselves and their communities throughout the pandemic,” Inslee said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Because folks listened to science and stayed home to stay healthy, wore masks and got vaccinated, we can now safely fully re-open our state’s economy and cultural centers after 15 long months. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud of how Washingtonians came together, persevered and sacrificed to fight this virus, and now we’re finally in a place that is safe enough to end this chapter.”

Still, Inslee said, “we still have work to do. Continued success depends on everyone getting vaccinated and encouraging any loved one who has not yet received this lifesaving vaccine to do so, and quickly.”

The state’s mask order will remain in place even after June 30, which means that people who are not fully vaccinated need to continue to wear a face mask in public indoor settings even when things start to go back to normal as the state reaches a reopening milestone.

All people, regardless of vaccination status, are still required to wear masks in certain places, such as schools and health care settings. In most other settings, people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask.

“Even though the economic reopening represents a return to a more normal life for people who are vaccinated, masks will still be part of daily life for many,” says Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “Masks will still need to be in your car, your pocket, your backpack – they’ll still be a part of your life as we start to transition into this new phase of recovery.”

Businesses and local authorities can set their own more protective mask requirements, even though some state restrictions are being lifted. That’s why the Department of Health message around masking is “Respect the rules of the room you’re in,” since those rules may change depending on where you are. Guidance for employers is available on the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries website.

The Secretary of Health’s mask order has been amended to say that no one is required to wear a mask outdoors. People who are unvaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings, such as at sporting events, fairs, parades, concerts, and similar settings where it’s harder to maintain physical distance. No one is required to wear a mask during outdoor sports practice or competition, while swimming or when engaged in water sports and recreation.

People who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask during indoor sports practices and competitions, with some limited exceptions that will be designated by DOH.

The settings in which all people, including people who are fully vaccinated, are required to wear masks include:

  • child care facilities, camps, K-12 schools, and other youth settings where children are present or expected to be present;
  • health care settings, in accordance with CDC health care infection prevention and control recommendations;
  • correctional facilities in areas where incarcerated individuals are present or expected to be present;
  • homeless shelters in areas where individuals being served are present or expected to be present;
  • public transportation and transportation hubs, including airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations

Commerce Director Lisa Brown praised the resilience of Washington’s business community and emphasized the tie between economic recovery and continued increase of vaccination rates.

“We know our businesses are deeply dedicated to reopening safely and ensuring the health of their employees and customers. And Commerce remains committed to a strong economic recovery across all our communities – particularly those that were hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic,” Brown said. “But our economic recovery remains tied to our success fighting COVID-19. We hope this milestone inspires anyone who can get their vaccine but hasn’t done so yet to take that important step and help us become more resilient now and into the future.”

Here is the indoor and outdoor reopening guidance effective at 12:01 a.m. June 30:

All industry sectors previously covered by guidance in the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery or the Safe Start Reopening Plan may return to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large indoor events (any event with more than 10,000 simultaneous participants in an indoor, enclosed space.)

Reopening guidance:

  • Vaccine verification/negative testing: Recommended but not required for large indoor and outdoor events
  • Capacity limitations: No restrictions in restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, theaters etc. (except large indoor events)
  • Physical distancing: No requirements
  • Facial coverings: Not required for vaccinated individuals, unless required by individual business
  • Travelers: Follow CDC recommendations

Some exceptions will include schools and child care centers that will continue to have some facial coverings and physical distancing requirements.

On Wednesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 1, the governor will participate in three community-led celebrations to acknowledge and celebrate end to current COVID restrictions. Inslee will travel to Tacoma, Spokane and Seattle to celebrate with community and business leaders, elected officials and Washington heroes who helped us through the COVID pandemic.

 

2 Replies to “State reopening set for Wednesday, but don’t ditch your mask”

  1. Well, from a “risk” standpoint, statistically the very least at risk for the “rona” are anyone under 20 years old unless severely compromised health wise. So lets make sure they are required to keep wearing the “de-humanizing rags of tyranny” and stunt their health physically and (especially) mentally. I really hope that parents of school age kids will step up and demand a stop to this overbearing mandate by government hacks and medical professionals who know better but have fallen in line with their political overlords. Has the “collectivist” mentality really taken root to this extent in Washington state?

    Ignored

  2. After almost two years I’m too emotionally drained to argue about masks for unvaccinated adults, but it is asinine that children, who have been reliably established as the least effected group, are still being required to wear masks. It amuses me that at one point many people in Washington would be more offended seeing a face in public than exposed breasts. I am terrified of the long term psychological effects this will have on the next generation.

    Ignored

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