CORONAVIRUS: State, county indoor-mask requirements ending earlier – now March 12

11:34 AM: Just in: As of March 12th, the state and King County will lift their indoor-mask rules. That’s nine days earlier than Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week. His new statement – issued in conjunction with the governors of Oregon and California – says in part:

This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.

Here’s a graphic from the governor’s office, with more details:

The governor’s office says the new date is possible because “of new [CDC] guidance and continued decreases in hospitalization rates.” We’ll add to this as more information becomes available.

11:55 AM: Gov. Inslee plans a media briefing at 1 pm – you can watch here. You can read the three governors’ joint statement here.

1:08 PM: The governor has just begun speaking. Meantime, the King County decision is explained here.

1:56 PM: The governor’s briefing/Q&A has just concluded. He said he does not anticipate changing the date again. He also says (as he did last week) that the emergency declaration regarding the pandemic will remain in place, in part because that facilitates some policies staying in place such as the health-care masking requirement.

8:02 PM: If you’re wondering about schools, Seattle Public Schools has reiterated that its policy will remain in place TFN.

62 Replies to "CORONAVIRUS: State, county indoor-mask requirements ending earlier - now March 12"

  • johnny February 28, 2022 (11:41 am)

    Wooo hooo!!  Time for a maskless West Seattle fiesta to celebrate the terrific new!!

    • Derek February 28, 2022 (1:50 pm)

      Let’s hope lost lives and hospital upticks aren’t a result like last time. 

      • WSB February 28, 2022 (1:56 pm)

        The governor is answering that question right this moment. He draws the distinction that the new variants were the problem, not the relaxation of restriction, and says the state will be ready in case of another new major variant. More on that and the “next phase” of the pandemic response, he says, is coming next week.

  • Kram February 28, 2022 (11:54 am)

    We are one of only 4 states that have a indoor mask mandate. This is weeks away from only being one state, Hawaii. Hawaii is unique and they don’t have hospital resources like we do stateside but my guess is they too won’t be far behind either. I was just there and we didn’t see many masks. Maybe in 6-8 months we can officially call this an endemic?

    • Jort February 28, 2022 (1:45 pm)

      Fun fact: “endemic” is not defined as “we’re, like, so totally, like, over it, maannnn.” I’ve noticed people like to use the word “endemic” interchangeably with “we will collectively decide, based solely on our personal feelings, that we are ‘over’ the pandemic and it’s time to move on.” That’s not how viruses work, and society doesn’t just get to “officially declare” that the virus is “endemic.” You can declare that you’re mentally over it! And you can declare that we’ll ignore it and pretend it’s gone away! But you don’t get to ‘declare’ when a contagious virus is stable in the population. That’s up to the virus. Not you. 

      • johnny February 28, 2022 (1:53 pm)

        Jort, you are officially invited to the West Seattle “end”emic fiesta – date yet to be determined – will have Mexican fare and ‘ritas for all to celebrate the end of masking!!  

      • Brian February 28, 2022 (2:58 pm)

        I honestly think a lot of people think it’s a portmanteau of “end” and “pandemic” and every time I hear someone float the idea of “declaring it endemic” it reminds me of the way Michael Scott declared bankruptcy by just yelling it loudly. 

        • KWest Seattle February 28, 2022 (4:22 pm)

          Haha Brian, good call. 

      • Sam February 28, 2022 (3:25 pm)

        It sounded like they were just hoping for it to be endemic. It will be tough to let go, won’t it?

      • Kram February 28, 2022 (10:54 pm)

        That’s a wierd response. The CDC can officially call it an endemic. At some point with the current numbers it’s won’t be a pandemic anymore regardless of anyone’s feelings.

    • J West February 28, 2022 (10:41 pm)

      Do you mean endemic like HIV in Africa, or endemic like malaria in tropical and subtropical regions? Endemic is a kind of public health failure. Endemics kill plenty of people. What a strange thing to celebrate.

  • Derek February 28, 2022 (1:50 pm)

    I hope restaurant servers still wear them. I plan to keep my mask on. 

    • North Delridge February 28, 2022 (2:16 pm)

      You’re going out to eat and are surrounded by other maskless diners and your concern is the waitstaff? They should be able to decide for themselves. It’s been 10 years since I was a waiter but I know I’d be done with it and would have been sick of doing vaccine checks, concerned that any diner I’m asking to show their card or mask up will be the next one to flip out on me.

    • What Do I Know February 28, 2022 (2:51 pm)

      If a person is eating in a restaurant, their mask is off the majority of the time they are there. It’s only on for the short trip to/from the table or restroom. How much difference will it really make for patrons to continue to mask-up? And, it would seem restaurant owners will decide if staff have a choice to mask-up or not; with this upcoming change some unfortunately may not have that option. I’ll be looking for places that aren’t packed elbow to elbow and have good ventilation or outdoor seating. Thank goodness spring is around the corner. 

    • flimflam February 28, 2022 (3:05 pm)

      If restaurant workers have to wear them, so should the customers.

      • Ben Bridge March 1, 2022 (10:25 am)

        Masking in bars/restaurants is the most bizarre thing to me. If you care enough to think that you should be masking in a restaurant, you should eat at home. What’s the point of wearing a mask walking to your table, only to take it off and spend an hour eating and talking with it off, along with dozens of other people. It’s a highly contagious respiratory virus, some plexiglass and 6 feet aren’t going to contain it at your table.If the restaurant is open, there should not be a mask mandate. The wait staff should be able to wear N95’s if they want to, but it makes no sense for patrons to wear one for 5% of the time they’re there.

    • DrDoom February 28, 2022 (3:14 pm)

      Dark days ahead.

      • Sam February 28, 2022 (3:27 pm)

        Fact-check: the days are getting longer

        • Jethro Marx February 28, 2022 (8:15 pm)

          Further fact-check: the average length of a day remains 24.000 hours, throughout the year, if that is our context.

        • Seattlite March 1, 2022 (12:57 pm)

          Sam…LOL…great reply.

    • Elton February 28, 2022 (4:05 pm)

      If you’re that concerned, just wear an N95 mask at your table at all times when you’re not actively eating – can’t imagine a restaurant in Seattle would ever forbid you from wearing a mask. You can also limit yourself to only outdoor dining, which is going to be fairly doable as we enter spring.

    • Cozy mask February 28, 2022 (7:19 pm)

      Derek’s comment here might be out of concern for the restaurant workers

      • rocket February 28, 2022 (11:56 pm)

        I think Derek works in the industry themselves.  Its going to be ok though.  Derek is probably under 65 and boosted and very unlikely to have multiple co morbidities and the hospitals have plenty of capacity so Derek is going to be OK. Its normal to be anxious after all we have been through.

        • Cozy mask March 1, 2022 (6:38 am)

          Do you wear a seatbelt when you drive because you’re anxious about getting in a car accident, or because its a safety measure that makes sense? You will probably be okay when you drive, right?

          • rocket March 1, 2022 (9:04 pm)

            Its going to be ok for you too.  Even with strained metaphors we will get through this together.  The vaccine is the seat belt friend.  Hospital capacity is like the air bag. Masking without thought to the setting of the broader conditions is more like adaptive high beams or early braking systems, marginally helpful in certain situations but largely unnecessary most of the time.

        • March 1, 2022 (8:05 am)

          From previous comments on other WSB stories, Derek has mentioned having his own business and in another working on his tablet/laptop in a restaurant. That makes his comment for wearing a mask more logical if one is doing work electronically in a restaurant for an extended period of time.

  • John Q Lincoln February 28, 2022 (1:55 pm)

    Also pure coincidence this was announced the day before SOTU address.  Always been about public health, nothing to do with politics at all, not even a little. 

  • TJ February 28, 2022 (2:08 pm)

    Hopefully schools will follow, although I am betting SPS will require them for the rest of the school year which would be a travesty. Mask wearing has become a joke now. Some places not enforcing it, and people wearing paper thin masks as a token gesture as they are not covering both their nose and mouth. Businesses were forced by inslee thru this, but any business that continues to require masks will not be getting business from a lot of people 

  • uncle loco February 28, 2022 (2:17 pm)

    The (polling) data says its time for the masks to come off. Don’t worry, Jay will still keep his emergency powers though.

  • Mellow Kitty February 28, 2022 (3:44 pm)

    It’s 12 days, guys. Less than two weeks. Maybe use your energy for something other than whining about the mask mandate, which again, ends in 12 days. 

  • MoonKitty 5000 February 28, 2022 (4:17 pm)

    What about the graph?? The graph that Inslee presented showed the two lines crossing at the exact date of March 21st. This covid mask/unmasking and vax vs no vax has become an absolute joke. Let’s hope we don’t have any further restrictions in the future. 

  • Thomas A Wood February 28, 2022 (5:50 pm)

    Two weeks ago the IHME at the University of Washington said we have reached the point between vaccination and community surge.That there was no measurable difference between masked and unmasked. At the beginning of the pandemic the IHME was considered the gold standard on covid 19 world wide on predicting the viruses movement.The biggest problem we have had is who to believe.

  • Mj February 28, 2022 (6:28 pm)

    TJ – come on 90+% vaccinated rate at Lafayette Elementary, Madison Middle and West Seattle High School and you are betting on the SPS maintaining the masking requirement!  I will not take you up on your bet, what is the magic value Derek/Jort?

    • Math Teacher February 28, 2022 (8:43 pm)

      @MJ – Where are you finding school-by-school vaccination rates?

      • CAM March 1, 2022 (8:48 am)

        They are not. They are assuming based on the published rates for the total population of eligible people in that zip code that covers the school. Which is obviously not the same thing but it fits their argument. 

        • cwit March 1, 2022 (11:42 am)

          What’s that famous quote? “Lies, damned lies, and (misused) statistics.”

        • Jort March 1, 2022 (12:15 pm)

          This is what MJ does. 

        • Pessoa March 1, 2022 (2:43 pm)

          CAM: The percentage of vaccinated children is far less important.  The  statistic that counts is the percentage of the adult population in those neighborhoods that are full vaccinated and protected from serious complications, which  is roughly 92%.  And of course, unvaccinated children are at extremely low risk of serious complications.  

  • Peter February 28, 2022 (9:40 pm)

    I think this ok for King , San Juan, and Jefferson counties, where almost 90% of people are vaccinated, but could be very bad for the rest of the state. King county should immediately reinstate the vaccine requirement for bars and restaurants, and it’s clearly premature for the state to abandon most masking requirements. These poorly thought out actions are risking another massive surge in infections. 

  • Mj February 28, 2022 (10:09 pm)

    The WSB identified the vaccination rates by WS area codes for people 5 and older, the rate for 98116 and 98136 (by memory) were over 90%.  Lafayette Elementary, Madison Middle and West Seattle High School are in these zip codes.  Thus it is a deduction that the rates for the school age kids in these zip codes is also over 90%.  Factor in faculty and staff that are required to be vaccinated the overall rate at these schools is even higher!

  • Math Teacher March 1, 2022 (5:34 am),than%20a%2050%25%20vaccination%20rate.

    That page says that 6 weeks ago, STUDENT vaccination rates at Seattle Schools ranged from 9% to 94%. 

  • Pessoa March 1, 2022 (7:02 am)

    Los Angeles County relaxed it’s general indoor mask mandate a week ago, following a relaxing of state indoor masking requirements several weeks ago.  Despite this, I was in a Ralphs yesterday (in LA presently) and I was the only shopper not wearing one.  The human mind is quite a bizarre thing. 

    • Jort March 1, 2022 (12:11 pm)

      Why are you watching and caring about how other people choose to wear masks? You admit you are tracking who is and isn’t wearing a mask in a public space. That seems like an invasion of personal liberty, or at the least a bizarre focus on a person’s own choice regarding mitigations to a known health risk. Why is it so “bizarre” to you that some people are choosing to wear a mask? Are you under the impression that people should be compelled to not wear them? If so, perhaps you should move to a state that shares your anti-liberty ideology.

  • Rabble March 1, 2022 (8:11 am)

    Rabble Rabble Rabble, follow the science (poll numbers). Rabble Rabble Rabble. 

  • Wseattleite March 1, 2022 (10:20 am)

    As hard as it is going to be for some people to have to give up imposing their will on others, let us all recognize that this is progress and something we should all be encouraged by.

  • Mj March 1, 2022 (10:37 am)

    The three SPS’s I noted are located in a area of WS that is highly vaccinated including youth!

    • AMD March 1, 2022 (10:50 am)

      Vaccine efficacy in the 5 to 11 age group has already declined to 12%.  Kids can still get COVID and bring it to their teachers, custodians, and other school staff who may be vulnerable to severe disease (or at the very least, have to miss a bunch of school, leaving the kids to watch movies for days/weeks on end which is definitely NOT good for educational outcomes).

      • wseakell March 1, 2022 (12:22 pm)

        AMD – those employees you list out should be vaccinated, as required by the school district. Also, if they are immunocompromised and/or wish to have further self protection, they can wear an N-95 mask. We are at the point where masking can and should be a personal decision. That’s what the lifting of this mandate is all about. People that feel they need continued protection can do so with a vaccine and proper mask, while those that feel that the benefits of unmasking outweighs their or their children’s risk can take them off. At this point in the pandemic I think we can all agree that is a good thing.

    • zark00 March 1, 2022 (6:01 pm)

      MJ – Many kids at those schools live in different zip codes. Your understanding of how school boundaries and student populations work is lacking. Garbage in garbage out. 

      • Pessoa March 2, 2022 (8:52 pm)

        Unless you think students are being bused in from Eastern Washington, the neighborhoods or cities where student might commute in from have adult populations that are also heavily vaccinated.  Therefore, these students pose little risk to the community where they live, or the community where they attend school.   

  • Andros March 1, 2022 (12:46 pm)

    Was at Disneyland last weekend. I would say after the mask requirement was dropped, about 20% of those there were wearing one. It was spooky to say the least, but we are vaxxed, wore masks the whole time and didn’t get sick. Don’t let any requirement loss guide your life!

    • Ws resident March 1, 2022 (9:29 pm)

      We were at Disneyland last week too, noticed the same thing that about 20% wore masks.  We are all vaccinated and boosted (except the kids who were just vaccinated in December) and didn’t wear masks.  Didn’t get sick, but thought that if we were ever going to get Covid it would be there.  Thankfully we didn’t get it! It was refreshing to see so many smiling faces in the “happiest place on Earth”. I’m excited about the mandate ending.  Plus the good thing is that people can choose to wear or not wear a mask now!  

    • Pessoa March 2, 2022 (8:54 pm)

      Bravo.  Seriously, bravo. 

  • Patrick March 1, 2022 (4:37 pm)

    I guess everyone will be returning to the office March 12th?  No real reason to work from home anymore????

  • zark00 March 1, 2022 (6:04 pm)

    Talk to a kid. They’re going to keep wearing masks unless they have weird parents who are anti-mask or something.  Most kids are completely fine wearing a mask, it doesn’t bother them, and they laugh at the adults freaking out about wearing masks.  Seriously. If you have a kid, ask them, they’ll tell you.  As one of mine said ‘Have you ever smelled a high schooler?  I’ll keep the mask on’.

    • CAM March 1, 2022 (7:14 pm)

      My family lives in another state without current mask requirements. I asked my nephew about masks at school. No one is requiring it and the kids are all wearing them. Talked to a family member who is a teacher who said that a small number of kids took their masks off but the vast majority left them on. I’m sure the antimask advocates of the WSB comment section will highlight for me how that’s a result of the damage done to those kids’ mental health, judgment, development, and/or intellectual abilities. 

    • wseakell March 1, 2022 (8:11 pm)

      zark00 – My preschoolers jumped for joy, literally dancing with excitement when I told them the end to wearing masks in school is coming soon. My 10 year old niece and her friends can’t wait to ditch the masks in school too (we’ve had fun conversations about it; kids these days are so observant and smart). So, it definitely depends on the kid, I don’t think they all feel like yours. (And please don’t throw insults to kids/parents who don’t feel exactly like your family, indicating anyone that doesn’t agree with you and your children are “weird … anti-mask or something.” What an insulting generalization that there’s no need for.)What’s great is that dropping the mandate provides that choice. At this point of the pandemic people that want to continue wearing masks can! And those that don’t can ditch them! It’s an awesome feeling that we’ve reached this point in the pandemic.There’s no need to insult and degrade those that don’t feel the same as you and your kids. 

    • rocket March 1, 2022 (9:11 pm)

      My 7 year old is very compliant and trained to be afraid to not wear her mask even though for the past little while we have been helping her feel ok about how its safe to have it off outside for the most part.  She is quite exciting to not have to wear all the time and is smart enough and adaptable enough to be able to learn that there are times to wear them and times to not. 

    • WS teacher March 1, 2022 (9:36 pm)

      I am a private school teacher and announced to my elementary class that the mandate was ending after next week and the cheers erupting from my class could be heard from the next class.  Whoops!  I actually didn’t expect that strong of a response.  I went on to clarify and say that it will be up to individual families whether the child will keep wearing masks or not and we will respect each individual decision.  I have a feeling that in a few weeks I will have more unmasked students than masked though.  I’m so excited to see their sweet smiles and celebrate in their lost teeth again:)

Sorry, comment time is over.