Washington will lift its statewide indoor mask mandate on March 21, as per Governor Jay Inslee, AP reported. This will include schools as well as childcare facilities, as per AP.
At the moment, Washington is one of the few states in the country that has an indoor mask mandate in place.
From March 1, it’ll also not be necessary to show a vaccination certificate or negative COVID test result to attend large events, as per AP. However, the agency reported that masks will still be needed for health care settings, such as doctor’s offices and hospitals, long term care facilities, jails, and prisons. Further, they’ll be required in public transport including taxis, school buses, and rideshares.
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If any private business requires mask mandates for employees, residents, or customers, they’re free to do so, according to AP.
Washington, like the rest of the US, had imposed the mask mandate in June 2020. Since then, the state has witnessed a dip in hospitalizations and cases, despite the omicron surge.
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In May 2021, Washington had aligned its rules to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which allowed vaccinated people to go without masks indoors. However, this stance was rescinded in August 2021, with the emergence of the Delta variant.
Additionally, Washington has a rule where face covering is required for any outdoor event with 500 or more people. However, this rule imposed in September is now being lifted as of Friday, AP has reported. So far, non-urgent procedures have been kept on hold, due to concerns about hospital capacity. However, AP has reported that they’re now to resume as of Friday.
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While Washington is easing some of the curbs, California has become the first state in the US to take the ‘endemic’ approach to the coronavirus. This means that it’ll focus on quick response to outbreaks and focus on preventions, rather than imposing wide mandates.
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AP reported Governor Gavin Newsom saying, “This disease is not going away. It’s not the end of the quote, unquote, war”. However, this approach does signal a return to greater normalcy in everyday lives.
[Edited with AP inputs]