WASHINGTON — Washington’s indoor mask mandate is over. The state will no longer require masks in most indoor settings including schools, bars, restaurants, markets, stores, gyms, and many other spaces.
Masks had been required in Washington state since the most recent mandate went into effect on August 23, 2021.
But you may not want to throw away your masks just yet. The state and the federal government will still require masks in healthcare settings and on public transportation, for now. Also, businesses and schools can still choose to require masks.
Masks not required starting March 12
- Schools, childcare facilities, and libraries
- Restaurants and bars
- Houses of worship
- Gyms, recreation centers, and indoor athletic facilities
- Grocery stores, businesses, and retail establishments
Masks still required after March 12
- Healthcare and medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient, dental facilities and pharmacies
- Long-term care settings
- Public transit, taxis, and rideshare vehicles (federal requirement)
- Correctional facilities
- Private businesses and local governments that want to require masks for their employees, customers, or residents.
Private businesses can still require masks if they choose, people will also still have the option to wear masks at work or businesses.
Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday that it will extend its masking requirement through April 18. The federal rule means masks will be required through at least mid-April on planes, buses, trains, and at transit hubs.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced the end to the mask mandate last month, as part of an agreed-upon date between the health leaders of Washington, California, and Oregon. The announcement followed an update from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that eased the mask guidelines for more than 70% of Americans.
"While this represents another step forward for WA, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable," Inslee said in a statement last month. "Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously."
This week, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said the number of hospitalizations for COVID cases in Spokane County is the lowest it has been in a long time.
Velazquez also asked the community to respect those who would choose to keep wearing a mask after the end of the mask mandate.
"My suggestion and my request is let's be kind to each other," Velazquez said. "If someone decides to wear the mask, that is fine, let's respect. Also, if there are any places we go to and they need us to wear a mask, let's be respectful of that."