Washington ends all COVID-19 state of emergency orders on Halloween
Oct 31, 2022, 8:02 AM | Updated: 11:22 am
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The official last day of the COVID-19 state of emergency in Washington state has officially come to an end Oct. 31.
Governor Jay Inslee announced they would be ending over a month ago, on Sept. 6, with 75% of the governor’s 85 COVID-19 emergency orders have already been lifted, and an additional 13 healthcare-related orders ended Oct. 27. The final ten emergency orders, including the declaration of the state of emergency, end Monday.
“Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered,” Inslee said.
The state of emergency was initially declared Feb. 29, 2020, and after more than two years will be coming to a close. Washington was the first state in the U.S. with a reported case of COVID-19, causing Inslee to enact emergency measures.
The final ten emergency orders are:
- COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
- Safe Workers
- Children and Youth Mental Health Crisis
- Restrictions on Travelers
- Safeguarding Public Trust and Stability in Local Health Jurisdictions
- Public Records Act – Contact Tracing
- Annual Leave and Pay Procedures
- “WASHINGTON READY”
- Higher Education
- K-12 Schools
- COVID-19 State of Emergency
Washington had the sixth-lowest death rate in the country, and currently, 73.9% of the population is fully vaccinated.
“While we are grateful for the thousands of lives we saved together, thousands of lives were also lost, and many more were changed forever,” Inslee said. “The past two and a half years have been some of the hardest anyone can remember. Through the loss and suffering, we did not lose faith, and we did not abandon each other. Working together, we saved countless thousands of lives.”
The statewide Face Covering Order issued by the state Department of Health will remain in place for health care, and long-term care settings, as well as correctional facilities under certain circumstances after the state of emergency ends.
Vaccination requirements for health care and education workers will end, but employers will continue to be able to require them if they choose. Inslee has already announced that COVID-19 vaccination will remain a condition of employment for most Washington state agencies.
Only California, West Virginia, and Washington had emergency orders in place with no official end date. Now with Washington’s coming to an end and the California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing that their COVID-19 state of emergency will end on February 28, 2023, only West Virginia has a state of emergency with no end date.
The city of Seattle is lifting its emergency orders in conjunction with Washington state lifting its orders as well. Some policies will end immediately, like hazard pay for food delivery and network gig workers, while other programs will be phased out more gradually, like payment plans for people overdue on rent, which expire in six months.
“Our city has been working under an emergency proclamation for nearly 1,000 days as we responded to a new pandemic and unprecedented resulting challenges,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said. “We will continue to follow the recommendations of public health experts and science leaders to support the safety and well-being of our communities.”
Students at Washington State University and the University of Washington will have to prove vaccination through the summer. Both universities say they will re-evaluate the policy before the start of school next fall.
In a briefing Thursday, Department of Health officials said only 15% of people over the age of 12 have received a Bivalent booster as of Oct. 24, which they called concerning.
The DOH said COVID-19 cases have been trending down since mid-summer, but people need to prepare for another possible surge during the winter.
You can find more information on the state’s current COVID-19 cases on the DOH’s website.