Clarifying Washington state’s updated masking rules and vaccination guidelines

Washington
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: DC Health Nurse Manager Ashley Hennigan fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine during a walk-up clinic at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' outdoor Reach area on May 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Hosted by the District of Columbia Health Department, the event also provided newly vaccinated people with a free beer courtesy of Solace Brewing Co. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. — Rules surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly changing and many Washington state residents are having trouble keeping up. With that in mind, Kittitas County public health officials answered some pressing questions about masking, vaccine distribution and upcoming changes to state rules.

In light of updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington state will be adopting new masking rules for fully vaccinated individuals. Once those rules are implemented, fully vaccinated people won’t have to wear masks indoors unless it’s required at the discretion of a business owner.

For example, if a store asks customers to wear a mask inside, you’re still required to comply. Many businesses will maintain a mask mandate out of an abundance of caution for the store’s staff and other customers.

RELATED: CDC says fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Additionally, Washingtonians will have to follow masking guidelines from their employers to ensure all safety protocols are being followed. Despite these shifts, masks will still be required in many critical congregate settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices and schools.

Currently, Washington state officials are working with the Department of Health and Labor & Industries to ensure that these changes can be made as quickly and effectively as possible.

Please be advised that loosened mask requirements will only apply to people who are two weeks removed from their second COVID-19 vaccine dose. If you are not fully vaccinated, you will be required to keep your mask on, per state guidelines.

RELATED: Washington to fully reopen its economy no later than June 30

Earlier this week, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the state intends to fully re-open the economy by June 30 — Though increased vaccination rates in the coming weeks may accelerate that process. To ensure that you can go out safely and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within your community, you may want to consider getting vaccinated.

Vaccination efforts are ongoing throughout the state. Just this week, public health officials extended Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination eligibility for children age 12+. Vaccines produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are only approved for use by individuals age 18 and older.

While vaccination is free of cost, certain private entities may require an administration fee. You can skip those fees by visiting one of the state’s many mass vaccination sites. To find out more about where you can get vaccinated near you, visit the Washington Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator tool by clicking here.

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RELATED: Gov. Brown lifts mask requirement for fully vaccinated people in Oregon