Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate Resumes, Regardless of Vaccination Status
On August 23, the existing statewide mask mandate expanded to once again include vaccinated individuals in indoor settings. The expansion comes after Washington recently broke the previous record for COVID hospitalizations set in December. Every county in the state currently falls within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) substantial or high transmission, and each of the state's 35 local health officers also recommended all individuals wear masks indoors.
The expanded indoor mask mandate applies to most public places across the state, including restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, regardless of vaccination status. Limited exceptions include office spaces that are not easily accessible to the public (where workers and visitors are vaccinated) and when working alone indoors or in a vehicle with no public-facing interaction. While not required, the Department of Health strongly recommends individuals also wear masks in crowded outdoor settings, such as outdoor concerts, fairs, and farmers markets.
Governor Inslee announced this expansion on August 18. He also instituted a vaccination requirement for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education settings, which took effect immediately. The Governor has not halted Washington's reopening, which ramped up on June 30 with the lifting of most pandemic restrictions. However, he has said that he hopes expanding the mask mandate will help avoid a return to more drastic measures, such as mandatory business closures. Public Health-Seattle & King County also still advises that the best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated AND wear a mask.
What does this mean for your business?
Once again, businesses are asked to enforce the indoor mask mandate on your premises. Here are a few tips to help you keep your employees and patrons safe:
Educate yourself and your employees on the current State and County guidance, which is consistently updated here:
- State: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance
- King County: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/safereopen.aspx
Update your COVID-19 signage with these free resources:
- State Business Signage Toolkit: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/information-for/business/business-signage-toolkit
- King County Signage: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/posters.aspx
Review the enforcement guidelines from the State: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/StayatHomeOrder-Guidelines%20for%20Enforcement.pdf
Ask for kindness and patience from your patrons (and give the same to them); we will continue to get through this pandemic together!
The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Economic Development Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how we can help.