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Washington governor ending mask mandate sooner on March 12

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state will drop its indoor mask requirement on March 12, following the CDC easing guidelines last week.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will give an update on Monday about ending the state’s indoor mask requirements earlier than he previously announced. Inslee will hold a press conference at 1:00 pm on Monday, Feb. 28.

The governor announced that Washington will be ending its indoor mask requirements in most settings on March 12, previously the mask mandate was set to expire on March 21.

The announcement comes following an update from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week, that eased the mask guidelines for more than 70% of Americans. Those guidelines mean the CDC no longer recommends masks for most people in Washington, including Spokane and King counties.

Health officials in Washington, Oregon, and California met over the weekend and agreed to drop most of the masking requirements together on March 12.

Masks will still be required in some settings after that date. Here is the breakdown from Gov. Inslee.

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.

"While this represents another step forward for WA, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable," Inslee said in a Tweet. "Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe."

Inslee had been facing pressure from some lawmakers to make changes to Washington’s mask requirements, sooner than later.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward took to Twitter on Saturday, calling on the governor to end the mask mandate.

“It’s time to drop Washington’s mask mandate! On Friday The CDC changed its recommendations for indoor masking for most people, depending on Covid risk by county. Spokane is at medium risk, meaning healthy people don’t need to mask indoors,” Mayor Woodward Tweeted. “Those at high risk for illness should talk to their healthcare provider. There’s no need to wait until March 21st to drop Washington’s mask mandate. I’m calling on our governor to do it NOW!”

Gov. Inslee will be joined at Monday’s press conference by Washington State Department of Health secretary Umair Shah, MD, MPH. You can watch a live stream of the event on KREM.com and the KREM 2 App.

WATCH MORE: CDC releases new mask guidance that would ease mask restrictions for many Americans


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