Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department

Last week, the CDC revised its masking recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals, and today the Governor issued a new proclamation clarifying Washington State’s requirements to wear masks in public. Fully vaccinated people are now exempt, with some exceptions.

What does this mean? 

If two weeks have passed since your final COVID-19 shot, you aren’t required to wear your mask in most public spaces. 

If you haven’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 or you haven’t completed your vaccination series, you must continue to wear a mask in public.

Fully vaccinated people still need to wear masks in these settings:

  • Health care settings 
  • Public transportation
  • Correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Schools

Keep in mind that businesses are allowed to require mask-wearing on their premises. They are also permitted to ask for proof of vaccination, or they may use an honor system.

What about the *other* Washington mask mandate?

Employees who are unvaccinated must continue to wear masks in the workplace. Employers must verify the vaccination status of employees before allowing them to work at their worksite without wearing a mask. Refer to L&I’s Key COVID-19 Updates for Fully Vaccinated Workers for more information about how employers may verify employee vaccination status.  

Employers also have the option to require employees to continue wearing masks regardless of vaccination status and may require vaccination as a condition of employment (unless prohibited by state or federal law).

So should you keep masking up? Probably yes.

Although masking guidelines and rules have changed, many people in our community aren’t yet vaccinated and more severe and easily-transmitted variants are spreading. We recommend that people who are fully vaccinated keep wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces where you can’t be sure what everyone’s vaccination status might be. And of course, if you aren’t yet vaccinated, a mask is one of the ways you protect yourself and others from COVID-19, so keep wearing it when you’re out and about.

The likelihood of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 goes down drastically after vaccination. Let’s work together to get as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as possible, so we can all safely remove our masks together one day soon. 

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