Washington's mask mandate ends March 21 for most indoor settings
Masks will still be required for healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, prisons, and jails
February 24, 2022
OLYMPIA—Governor Jay Inslee last week announced that, on March 21, the indoor mask mandate will be lifted for most settings. The February 17 announcement was made after nearly two years of mandated mask-wearing, and recent rapidly declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Masks will no longer be required in schools, childcare facilities, bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, grocery stores, or retail and business establishments after the goal date. Masks will still be required for dental and outpatient offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and all correctional facilities. Federal law will remain in effect, which requires masks be worn on all public transportation systems and school buses.
The March 21 date, which falls on a Monday and is more than a month away from the announcement, may seem arbitrary for some, but during the press conference, Inslee explained that the goal for lifting the mandate is to reduce the state’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate to 5 per 100,000. According to the latest modeling from the Washington State Department of Health, that goal will be met by March 21.
“At that level of hospital admissions, the hospitals will be able to have relatively normal functions,” Inslee said, during a press conference.
Local governments will still have the authority to implement their own face mask or vaccination requirement for employees and customers, and school districts will still be able to mandate that students and teachers wear masks, should they choose to do so.