Washington Implements Masking and Vaccine Mandates
With increases in COVID-19 caused by the delta variant, the state of Washington and the Department of Labor and Industry have provided updated guidance and extended masking and vaccination rules for business’s and workers. Governor Inslee has amended Proclamation 20-25 to adopt a recent face covering order issued by the Secretary of health requiring every person in Washington to wear a face covering when they are in a place generally accessible to any person from outside their household.
There are several exceptions to the masking requirement, including but not limited to: when an individual is working alone indoors, small indoor gatherings in a private residence, while eating/drinking, children younger than five years old, and others. Full details of the rule and exceptions can be found through the governor’s website (governor.wa.gov) and through the Department of Labor and Industries Guidance document: https://lni.wa.gov/forms-publications/F414-164-000.pdf
In addition, Governor Inslee also updated and extended Proclamation 21-14, which applies to mandatory vaccinations. Under the initial order, most state employees, health care workers and some workers in an educational setting were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, 2021. This has now been further expanded to include all employees, on-site contractors and on-site volunteers at all public and private K-12 schools, 2 and 4 year institutions of higher education, early learning and child care programs. Full details of all individuals and workplaces covered by vaccine mandate can also be found through the governor’s website: governor.wa.gov.
Legal challenges to the mandates are ongoing; however, the vaccine mandate and updated face covering requirements currently remain in place. Any Washington employers who are covered by the vaccine mandate should be prepared to implement the policy as required, have staff readily available to answer employee questions and have a plan to provide reasonable accommodations for any employee unable to be vaccinated because of sincerely held religious beliefs or those who are unable due to an ADA covered disability.
If you have any questions regarding the new mandates or have questions about how to update your COVID-19 policies, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 503-595-6111.
Posted by: Sarah Cohen