State to ‘monitor’ King County vaccine requirements, as it preps new verification tool
The Washington State Department of Health will soon be launching a COVID-19 vaccine verification tool, as leaders continue to mull over the possibility of a statewide vaccine requirement for select businesses.
King County implemented its own new rules on Oct. 25, mandating that businesses like restaurants, bars, music venues, and movie theaters require patrons to either provide proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours.
During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee did not specify whether similar statewide requirements were on the way, noting only that he is “looking at the experience of King County to see if it’s positive,” and that his office will “continue to monitor that situation.” Inslee indicated as far back as early September that vaccine requirements were under “active consideration.”
On Nov. 15, a statewide vaccine requirement will take effect for large events. This order will require large indoor events of 1,000 people or more, or outdoor events with 10,000 or more attendees, to verify that a person is fully vaccinated against COVID or has obtained a negative test within the prior 72 hours.
The statewide vaccine verification requirement will apply to everyone 12 and older who is attending a large event, including concerts, sporting events, fairs, theme parks, and conventions. For now, this requirement applies to ticketed or registered events. It does not include large venues like shopping malls, museums, or grocery stores that are open to the public as a result of their operation. It also does not include religious services or events are held on K-12 school grounds.
Meanwhile, the DOH will be moving forward with its new “WA Verify” tool, which will be used to provide digital proof of vaccination for Washington residents.
That proof of vaccination will be provided in the form of a unique QR code, after users fill in their name, date of birth, and contact information, as well as a four-digit PIN. The code can then be saved to the Apple Health app for iPhone users, and to Google Pay for those with Android devices.
While WA Verify hasn’t been officially released, it appeared to have briefly been soft-launched after a webpage with an FAQ section went live Thursday. Then, on Friday morning, a message on the WA Verify website indicated that it was “temporarily unavailable for maintenance,” and would be “back soon.”
DOH Deputy Secretary Lacy Fehrenbach said Thursday that a more formal launch will likely arrive sometime “in the near future,” and that “we expect to have more to share about this very soon.”