Mask Up: Statewide Mask Mandate

A statewide mask mandate is in effect as of Monday, August 23. The Department of Health order requires face masks for everyone over 5 years of age in most indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. Masks are required for all workers and residents at homeless shelters.

Every person in Washington State must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are in a place where any person from outside their household is present or in a place that is generally accessible to any person from outside their household.

There are limited exceptions, for example, face coverings are not required outdoors, while working alone indoors, while sleeping, while engaging in personal hygeine activities, or while eating and drinking (please see the order for the full list).

Face masks are an important tool in preventing transmission of COVID-19, which spreads person to person through respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze, or talk, and can be spread even when people do not have symptoms. Evidence shows that wearing a face mask can reduce the chances of spreading infection to others. With the rise of the more infectious Delta variant, it is more important than ever that we all get vaccinated and mask up.

The health care system is under immense strain right now, due in part to increased COVID-19 transmission, mostly among unvaccinated people — nearly 95% of COVID-19 cases who were hospitalized were not fully vaccinated. To lower the risk of hospitalization, our partners in public health are making it as easy as possible to get vaccinated — vaccines are free and available to everyone over 12 years of age, with no appointment necessary at most pharmacies and clinics, and free transportation is available. Click here to find a vaccine site near you.

More information is available from the state Department of Health here, and additional guidance for homeless service providers from King County Public Health is here.

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