Gov. Inslee moves end date for state’s indoor mask mandate up to March 12

Feb 28, 2022, 11:05 AM | Updated: Mar 1, 2022, 7:35 am

Image: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gives his annual State of the State address on Jan. 11, 2022....

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gives his annual State of the State address on Jan. 11, 2022. (File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

Washington will be joining California and Oregon in lifting their respective indoor mask mandates on March 12.

King County anticipates lifting indoor mask mandate in March

Starting at 11:59 p.m. on March 11, masks in Washington will no longer be required for schools, child care facilities, libraries, restaurants, bars, houses of worship, gyms, grocery stores, businesses, and retail establishments. The mandate will remain in place for health care facilities, hospitals, long-term care settings, public transit, taxis and rideshares, and correctional facilities. Private businesses and individual counties will also still be able to enact their own masking requirements.

“While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press release. “Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.””

This comes just two weeks after Inslee initially set a March 21 end date for the state’s indoor mask mandate. It also comes in the wake of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxing its own masking guidelines last Friday.

Under the CDC’s new guidance, each county in the United States is divided into three risk categories based on the level of community transmission: low, medium, and high. For areas where the risk level is low, masking is no longer recommended. Residents in medium areas are advised to wear a mask if they are at risk for severe illness, while those in high-risk counties should wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of their medical status.

According to the CDC, nine counties in Washington qualify as high-risk transmission areas, including Pierce, Chelan, Clallam, Cowlitz, and Douglas counties, among others. Both King and Snohomish counties are considered low-risk areas.

King County announced Monday that it will end its own mask mandate concurrently with the state’s.

Gov. Inslee provided further details on the state’s updated timeline during a 1 p.m. press conference, which you can watch at this link.

Shortly after the CDC unveiled its new recommendations at the end of last week, Gov. Inslee had intimated that he and the Washington State Department of Health would be “reviewing” the updated guidance and “evaluating data, metrics and approach.”

Washington’s statewide outdoor mask mandate lifted on Feb. 18.

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Gov. Inslee moves end date for state’s indoor mask mandate up to March 12