A reminder that starting Monday, Aug. 23, face masks are required for everyone over 5 years of age in most public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. These include places like grocery stores, malls, gyms and community centers. Masks are strongly recommended in crowded outdoor settings like sporting events, fairs and concerts where physical distancing is not possible. .
The order reflects the recommendations of all 35 local health officers in the state of Washington and recent changes to CDC guidance that all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public settings, in areas of substantial or high transmission. With the rise of the more infectious Delta variant, every county in Washington is currently categorized as having substantial or high transmission.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, reinstating mask requirements is necessary in addition to increasing vaccinations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 statewide.
There are some exceptions to the indoor mask requirement, including:
- Children under age 5. However, children age 2-4 years old can wear a mask under close adult supervision.
- People with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask
- Fully vaccinated workers who are working alone or in an area not accessible to the public
- Athletes who play indoor sports and who are actively engaged in competition or practice (masks are still required on sidelines and in team meetings)
- Small indoor private gatherings when everyone is vaccinated
- Children under 2years of age should not wear a face covering due to the risk of suffocation
It is important to use and handle masks properly. A mask should fit snugly around both your mouth and nose, and it should not have holes or tears in the fabric. Cloth face coverings should be washed frequently, ideally after each use, and certainly daily. If you are not able to wash it after each use, wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.