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‘Not a time for baby steps’: Gov. Inslee ‘actively considering’ expanded vaccine requirements

Governor Jay Inslee speaks before a crowd in Tukwilla, WA.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced an expansion of Washington’s mask mandate to include large outdoor events, while hinting that vaccine requirements for indoor businesses could potentially be on the horizon.

Vaccine rules in Clallam, Jefferson counties part of ‘social contract’

A vaccine mandate for state employees will take effect on Oct. 18, but does not extend to having businesses require proof of vaccination for customers. That said, with Clallam and Jefferson counties now requiring that indoor restaurants and bar patrons be fully vaccinated, a similar proposal is being weighed at the state level.

“It’s the kind of measure we might consider on a wider basis as this pandemic increases,” Inslee said during a Thursday press conference. “… Those things are under active consideration — we are in that type of danger zone at the moment.”

King County announced more concrete plans of its own this week as well, stating that it intends to enact vaccine requirements for select indoor businesses in October.

Inslee noted that health officials would still need to figure out how such a policy would work logistically statewide, citing the need to develop “a mechanism for effectuating it” before moving forward.

He went on to clarify that he has “not made final decisions in this regard,” but continued to emphasize the need to get more people vaccinated as COVID cases and hospitalizations are at the highest levels they’ve been over the course of the entire pandemic.

“When you make a decision to not be vaccinated, it is not just about your health — it is about the health of everybody around you,” he said. “We need people to think a little less about ‘me’ and start thinking a little more about ‘we’ — this is not about you, it is about us.”

President Joe Biden also announced sweeping mandates of his own this week. Those mandates include requiring federal workers to be vaccinated, and compelling businesses with over 100 employees to either require vaccines for their workers, or enact once-a-week COVID testing.

King County to explore enacting new vaccine requirements

Gov. Inslee praised the president’s move on Thursday, calling it “the right decision.”

“The federal government has now joined the state of Washington in an effort to end this pandemic,” he said. “This is not a time for little tiny baby steps to attack something that’s killing our people.”

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