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COVID-19 vaccinations may be required at many King County businesses as early as October

The county said the policy would apply to some non-essential businesses and other venues.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County is developing COVID-19 vaccine verification requirements in conjunction with the community and organizations for non-essential businesses and venues, which would go into effect in October.

The announcement, made Tuesday morning by Executive Dow Constantine, said Public Health - Seattle & King County is developing the policy after jurisdictions such as New York City, San Francisco and British Columbia in Canada implemented similar requirements.

The county said that it will announce the full details of the policy after engaging with “community organizations, labor unions, businesses, and cities to gather feedback.”

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Non-essential indoor and outdoor spaces are where people gather in close proximity for a prolonged period of time, according to the county.

Once the policy is announced, unvaccinated residents will be given five weeks to complete their vaccination series before the requirements take effect, which will likely be in October.

“We’re at a critical point in the pandemic. In a county where more than four out of five eligible residents have taken advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID, vaccine verification is the best way for businesses and gatherings to remain open, vibrant, and at full capacity,” said Constantine.

On Tuesday, the county’s outdoor mask mandate took effect, requiring face coverings for everyone regardless of vaccination status at outdoor events with 500 or more people.

Additionally, in a Tuesday briefing, the Washington State Hospital Association revealed that the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state is far higher than it’s ever been at 1,674 patients, a 7% increase in just one week.

The surge has been driven almost entirely by the delta variant and the unvaccinated.  

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe, highly effective, and readily available, and verifying vaccination in certain non-essential, high-risk settings can make those places safer for the public, workers, and our community, including children who are not currently eligible for vaccination,” King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a release.

King County is among the most vaccinated large counties in the country. Various sports teams in the region and venues announced Tuesday that they would implement vaccination or testing requirements, as well.

The latest data shows that more than 84% of eligible King County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.