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Washington's outdoor mask mandate will lift by Feb. 18, no date for indoor mandate

As other states lift mask mandates, Washington will begin doing the same, starting with the outdoor mandate.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state's outdoor mask mandate will be lifted by Feb. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday.

There is no date for when the universal indoor mask mandate will lift, but the "day is coming" when the state no longer has a mask mandate, Inslee said.

In Washington, a statewide indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, has been in place since Aug. 23, 2021. In September, an outdoor mask mandate was put in place for events with 500 or more people. The mandates were put in place as COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations increased during the rise of the delta and omicron variants. 

The mandate for events with 500 people or more will be lifted by Feb. 18.

King County officials announced the local outdoor mask mandate will lift Feb. 18 to align with the state.

Oregon state officials announced Monday that most indoor mask requirements are set to lift by March 31 at the latest. Health officials will consider lifting the mandate for indoor public spaces earlier if COVID-related hospitalizations decline to projected levels earlier than expected. K-12 schools would continue to adhere to the mandate through March 31 to give districts planning time.

Meanwhile, in California, the state is lifting its indoor mask requirement for vaccinated people on Feb. 15. It will remain in place for unvaccinated people and for schoolchildren.

Inslee said the state is entering a "transition period" in the pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining on both sides of the state. Based on trends in other states, Inslee said officials expect a rapid decline in COVID cases to occur in Washington.

Current projections show a steep decline of COVID cases "leading to extremely low numbers" by the first week of March.

"The good news is that the [omicron variant] wave has gone up like a rocket and come down like a rock," Inslee said. 

The state will also remove the requirement that hospitals postpone non-elective surgery on Feb. 18.

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