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Washington now asking businesses to prove mask-less workers are vaccinated

A man holds a sign for fans to mask up during the game between the Seattle Sounders and the Atlanta United at Lumen Field on May 23, 2021, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Washington state is now requiring businesses to make sure employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they can work without a mask.

Gov. Inslee: Washington follow CDC’s lead on relaxing mask rules for fully vaccinated

Two weeks ago, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks both indoors and outdoors, many businesses were quick to drop their masking rules. Washington state adopted those same recommendations as well, though individual businesses and counties are allowed to continue requiring masks if they so choose.

KIRO 7 TV reports that the state Department of Labor & Industries will require companies to keep track of employees that have been vaccinated if they want to take off their mask.

“We want to be able to go into a workplace and see that the employer has some system in place where they’ve verified that their employees without masks are vaccinated,” a L&I spokesperson told KIRO 7.

Whether it’s checking their vaccination card or having them sign an attestation, the employer doesn’t need to keep a copy, just a record that they checked.

One idea to help management keep track of who needs to be wearing a mask at workplaces where there are a lot of employees, like at a construction site, is to have those who can prove they’re fully vaccinated put a sticker on their ID badge.

For those in King County, the health department is still asking residents to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until more of the population is protected.

Washington House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox is objecting to the state’s workplace masking rules.

“Our state should not require employers to ask their employees if they are fully vaccinated for any reason,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Forcing employers to ask and record this personal medical decision violates employee privacy and is fundamentally wrong. People never envisioned having to do this and the question is, what’s next? Governor Inslee’s Department of Labor and Industries needs to rescind this new, unworkable policy immediately.”

KIRO 7 TV reporter Alison Grande contributed to this report.

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