Mask Guidance for Businesses

Posted By: Brett Waller Articles, COVID-19 Resource Center,

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask.

Gov. Jay Inslee soon followed with an announcement that Washington state would fully adopt the CDC’s masking guidance, emphasizing that fully vaccinated individuals can still choose to wear a mask if desired and businesses retain the right to require customers and/or employees to wear masks.

The CDC director and the Washington State Department of Health have since clarified that ending indoor mask mandates should be linked to local COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, as well as vaccination coverage rates.

Last Thursday, King County's Health Officer issued a directive that strongly urges residents to continue wearing a face mask in indoor public settings, whether or not they are fully vaccinated.

Last Friday, a proclamation from the Governor’s Office said business owners may adopt an honor system and assume that any customer who is not wearing a face covering has been fully vaccinated. This proclamation also notes that business owners and local authorities can require customers to wear a face covering, and local authorities cannot prohibit business owners from requiring customers to wear a face covering.

Employers can continue to require employees wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status. If employers would like to allow employees at a worksite to work without wearing a mask, they must obtain proof of vaccination, or obtain a self-attestation regarding employees' fully vaccinated status. Updated facial covering guidance for employers, issued by the state on May 20, is available here.