Washington’s outdoor mask mandate to be lifted Feb. 18; indoor to follow

Feb 9, 2022, 2:23 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2022, 8:42 am
Inslee, outdoor mask mandate...
Gov. Inslee on Feb. 9, 2022. (TVW screengrab)
(TVW screengrab)

Gov. Inslee announced Wednesday that the state’s outdoor mask mandate will be lifted by Feb. 18.

The outdoor mask mandate currently in effect in Washington only applies to large events, like sporting events or festivals.

As Oregon sets end date for mask mandate, Washington hopes to revisit it ‘in near future’

As for the state’s indoor mask mandate, the governor said the date for when that will be lifted will be shared next week, once more data is available “to give us a even higher level of confidence of where we’re going to be.”

“Today is not the day to eliminate masks, but that day is rapidly approaching,” he said.

Gov. Inslee is also telling the National Guard to “stand down” soon, and will allow hospitals to resume non-elective surgeries on Feb. 17.

According to Inslee, Washington is entering into a pandemic “transition” as COVID cases and hospitalizations are starting to decline, but he says it’s not yet time to drop all of our protections and mask mandates.

As has always been the case, local health departments will still be free to make their own mask decisions, Gov. Inslee added, and his announcement only removes the statewide mandate. He also made it clear that people who want to continue to wear masks once restrictions are lifted are free do to so.

Washington reopens COVID at-home test ordering portal for third time

Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, said earlier Wednesday that he supports ending the statewide mask mandate for students and leaving it up to each district.

“With high immunity rates and our ability to carry out rapid antigen tests with nearly every school district participating in our state’s COVID-19 testing program, the time is now to rebalance the health and educational benefits of masking in our schools,” Reykdal said in a written statement. “As part of the transition from pandemic to endemic, I believe it is safe and timely to eliminate the statewide masking requirement for students and allow for a decision by local health officials. I recommend the Governor and Department of Health change the guidance to reflect this in the coming weeks.”

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Washington’s outdoor mask mandate to be lifted Feb. 18; indoor to follow