CORONAVIRUS: What you need to know as masks become optional in most – but not all – indoor settings

As of tomorrow (Saturday, March 12), the county and state indoor mask mandates are over. But that doesn’t mean masks are optional everywhere. Here’s the thumbnail reminder:

Also, Seattle Parks and Recreation said today that its mask requirement will stay in effect until April 4th – as explained here.

Plus, some businesses can and will choose to continue to require masks. Among them, Pegasus Book Exchange in The Junction. Eric emailed today to ask us to mention this: “For the time being, until we see the stats in a few weeks, we will be continuing to require customers and staff to wear masks in our shop.” Mashiko noted a similar sentiment via social media, saying they’re continuing to require masks at least a little while longer: “We just want to feel this out for few weeks before we tear off the bandaid.” Youngstown Coffee in Morgan Junction says it’s requesting masks but not requiring them. (Any other businesses/venues requiring/requesting masks, you’re welcome to email us so we can mention you too.)

Most masking may be over, but, officials stress, COVID-19 is not. Among them, King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, who held a briefing/media Q&A session this morning – here’s what he said:

P.S. If you’re not vaccinated/boosted yet but thinking about it, the West Seattle YMCA (3622 SW Snoqualmie; WSB sponsor) has its next pop-up clinic tomorrow.

34 Replies to "CORONAVIRUS: What you need to know as masks become optional in most - but not all - indoor settings"

  • StopCuttingDownTrees March 11, 2022 (11:06 pm)

    Don’t throw your N95 or KN95 masks away: they make EXCELLENT wildfire smoke masks.

    • Auntie March 12, 2022 (10:32 am)

      Don’t throw your N95 and KN95 masks away – the virus is not gone, just resting. There may well be another surge in cases.

    • wsresident March 12, 2022 (9:37 pm)

      Don’t throw your n95 and kn95 masks away. Now that masks are optional, other illnesses will be back in force!

  • Canton March 12, 2022 (12:39 am)

    I got a text from my kid’s school today, “masks will be strongly encouraged,  but not required”.  What exactly does that mean? At my kid’s school parents aren’t allowed on school property,  let alone inside the school.  When does that end? 

    • Everett March 12, 2022 (2:42 am)

      Canton, it is simply a way to state that, “masks are not required, but we are still taking the pandemic seriously”…an attempt to please both camps.As for visitors, it’ll vary by school/district. My guess, based on where everything seems to be headed, you would either be allowed in closer to the end of the school year or at the start of the new school year. Districts feel the pressure to match what other districts are doing. This is just a matter of time. 

      • Canton March 12, 2022 (10:56 am)

        I get it. Follow the science until the science doesn’t fit the narrative. Completely hypocritical. 

        • carole March 12, 2022 (3:02 pm)

          Follow the science as it adapts to changing conditions, due to variants as the virus continues to mutate.

      • Mike March 12, 2022 (11:04 am)

         “masks are not required, but we are still taking the pandemic seriously”Ya, that’s what it is… That’s why kids are still eating outdoors in 35 degree weather.  Must also be why kids are being yelled at to the point of crying, for masks being slightly off, by an adult who has a Napoleon complex. Nothing says staying healthy like pneumonia and anxiety attacks.  SMH. Keep in mind, teachers eat indoors.  Read that again, the adults eat indoors and the kids eat outdoors in ALL weather.

        • Davis March 12, 2022 (7:04 pm)

          Agree completely 

  • Jort March 12, 2022 (6:14 am)

    “I got a text from my kid’s school today, ‘masks will be strongly encouraged,  but not required’. What exactly does that mean?”           I believe it means that they will encourage, strongly, wearing masks, but not require them. I think that’s what it means.

    • UselessPoliticians March 12, 2022 (10:23 am)

      Finally I actually agree with a Jort post!!

    • Math Teacher March 12, 2022 (11:55 am)

      Well done.

    • Frog March 12, 2022 (12:40 pm)

      Outside of Jort world, a lot of the meaning of what is said can be found between the lines.  With SPS, it often seems not even they know what they mean.  So anyone but Jort could forgive a parent for wondering out loud what this really means.  It could be 1) the mask mandate is history.  If you don’t like the fact that your kid’s classmates no longer wear masks, don’t complain to us, because we “strongly encouraged” continued mask wearing.  Go on Facebook and blame Donald Trump.  Or it could mean 2) the mask mandate is nominally lifted, but students will be actively shamed if they don’t continue to wear masks “voluntarily”, so nothing much is expected to change.  As a background information, all the schools had sessions on Friday about how students should not bully each other over mask choices.  That might favor meaning (1), but even still, it’s hard to know what was really being communicated without being there and weighing every word.

  • Wseattlite March 12, 2022 (9:08 am)

    Does pharmacies include stand alone stores such as RiteAid and grocery stores that have pharmacies in them?  Is any store with a pharmacy in the back included?

  • Rick March 12, 2022 (9:33 am)

    How do you wear a mask in the dentist’s chair?

  • Ws resident March 12, 2022 (9:57 am)

    I understand keeping masks on at most healthcare clinics, but dentists…really?!?  Keep your mask on until you take it off and we work with your mouth wide open for 30 minutes.  It’s even more ridiculous than the restaurant “science” of masks staying on until you sit down.  

    • SR March 12, 2022 (10:18 am)


    • Math Teacher March 12, 2022 (12:15 pm)

      @ WS Resident – It means that while you are laying there, vulnerable, with your mouth wide open for your 30 minute procedure, the dentist, hygienist, and dental assistant will be masked up to slightly reduce the transmission risk to you.  And it means that before and after your procedure, such as in the waiting room, or while paying your bill, you will wear a mask to slightly reduce the risk that you might asymptomatically and inadvertently transmit the virus to someone who has a high risk of serious illness. Persons at high risk have a choice to refrain from visiting restaurants or other un-masked venues, but you think they shouldn’t get dental care?

    • aa March 12, 2022 (7:14 pm)

      I have been to the dentist several times over the past two years of covid and feel that  the way they have it set up feels safe and careful for everyone.  I wear my mask until I get in the chair. The dental staff are wearing their protective gear and it all goes well. Mask goes back on when I leave the chair. When I am in the chair there is no one  nearby who is maskless so I don’t believe anyone is in danger of catching anything from me.  I appreciate my dentist and her staff for creating procedures that have enabled me to continue caring for my teeth and keeping themselves safe and healthy. So many people criticize the way things are done or said, let’s remember none of us have had to deal with a global pandemic before.  You think the people running schools , or your local bartells , or cafe had a plan for how to handle this? If you are one of the folks here criticizing dentists, and haven’t been in two years, best get to it!  And remember, floss the ones you want to keep.

      • Pessoa March 12, 2022 (9:04 pm)

        Droll.  A bit of humor never hurt anyone, either.  

  • Bandana March 12, 2022 (1:52 pm)

    While shopping at PCC, I estimate half of the customers were maskless.

    • Lisa March 12, 2022 (2:55 pm)

      How is that a problem? (Unless they are now requiring them.)

  • Pessoa March 12, 2022 (2:00 pm)

    There are many reputable scientific voices who now discourage – or are at least skeptical of – vaccinating young healthy children due to the extremely rare risk of serious Covid-19 related complications coupled with  documented adverse reactions.  For the sake of clarity and transparency, the good doctor should have reiterated that the issue of child vaccination is  controversial – and a very difficult risk/benefit assessment –  especially with the dangerous phase of the virus winding down.  Here is a LA Times article that offers a look at the issue, even if not in great depth:

  • Watertowerjim March 12, 2022 (4:36 pm)

    When did “trust the science” become “don’t trust the science”?  I’m so confused. 

  • AN March 12, 2022 (4:55 pm)

    I just picked up an RX from Admiral Bartells – and since I was the only person in line I didn’t put on my mask. I asked the person helping me if I should be wearing a mask in line and they said it is up to the consumer.All Bartells staff are still wearing their masks and the plastic barriers are still up.💜💎

  • Mj March 12, 2022 (5:35 pm)

    Watertowetim – the science early on identified the risk of transmission outside as minimal, yet many people continue to wear a mask walking by themselves outside!  It’s time to move forward and start seeing each other again.

    • Oh Seattle March 13, 2022 (12:56 pm)

      I hope someday to have the kind of life that allows me time to worry about what strangers choose to wear while going about their outdoor activities.  Although I wouldn’t want to suffer from a vision impairment where I can’t see people when they have a small piece of cloth over the lower half of their faces.  You should see an ophthalmologist about that.

    • KM March 13, 2022 (2:36 pm)

      Some folks wear masks outside for warmth, too. It’s not just about hyper vigilance. 

  • J West March 12, 2022 (5:47 pm)

    Science… I trust is a meandering path that gets closer to the truth if given time, and resources, and effort, and honesty, but I certainly don’t trust the virus. Sars-Cov-2 is not benevolent, or trustworthy. Surely you’ve seen that for yourself.

  • Westwood March 12, 2022 (6:03 pm)

    I think they were just making an observation. Don’t see where they said it was a “problem”. Jesus. 

  • CAM March 12, 2022 (6:09 pm)

    It seems like people don’t remember this but prior to covid ever being a thing, businesses could set minimum dress requirements as they saw fit. If you don’t want to follow the dress code set by a business (which has long been their right to do and many have done for decades and has nothing to do with health code) then that business does not have to serve you. 

  • Brian March 13, 2022 (4:48 pm)

    I’m happy the mandate is over. I plan on wearing a mask as little as possible. I’m triple vaxed and had omicron. I supported the mandate when it was needed. Now that it’s over, I hope people who continue to mask will refrain from shaming those that choose not to mask. 

  • Wes C. Addle March 13, 2022 (6:09 pm)

    My wife was wearing her mask at a Bartell’s and an old maskless man put on his because he felt guilty. 

    • Mark B March 13, 2022 (7:51 pm)

      Thanks Wes, for the passive-aggressive mask shaming. I am comfortable entering stores without a face covering but if I see a majority of folks are wearing them, then I’ll do so as well for their comfort. Not because I feel guilty, and not because I’m old. 

Sorry, comment time is over.