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Washington “reopens” – but some restrictions remain

June 30, 2021

Gov. Jay Inslee will announce today that our state will ”reopen” after roughly 16 months of requiring employers to implement COVID restrictions that were more onerous than nearly anywhere else in the country.

However, not all of the restrictions will be completely lifted today.

In news release yesterday afternoon, the governor revealed that some restrictions will remain. This includes the requirements that unvaccinated workers wear face coverings while working inside and businesses document how they are verifying vaccinations. It’s unclear when, if ever, the state will lift these restrictions.

Effective 12:01 AM on June 30, all industry sectors may return to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large indoor events. Large indoor events include any event with more than 10,000 simultaneous participants in an indoor, enclosed space.

Reopening guidance

  • Vaccine verification/negative testing: Recommended but not required for large indoor and outdoor events
  • Capacity limitations: No restrictions in restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, theaters etc. (except large indoor events)
  • Physical distancing: No requirements
  • Facial coverings: Not required for vaccinated individuals, unless required by individual business
  • Travelers: Follow CDC recommendations

*Some exceptions will include schools and childcare centers that will continue to have some facial coverings and physical distancing requirements.

Updated requirements for employers

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has posted updated requirements for places of employment here, including:

  • Ensuring unvaccinated employees wear a mask while working indoors. Employees no longer need to wear masks when working outdoors.
  • Verifying vaccination status before lifting employee mask requirements and being able to show the process used for verification.
  • Preventing employees with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19 from working around others.
  • Providing handwashing facilities and supplies.
  • Training employees to recognize and respond to workplace hazards, including COVID-19.
  • Assessing recognized hazards, including COVID-19, as part of the ongoing requirement to provide a safe and healthful workplace and, where appropriate, taking additional steps to protect unvaccinated employees.
  • Notifying employees in writing within one business day if someone they had close contact with tests positive for COVID-19 (without disclosing the person’s identity).
  • Reporting COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more employees at workplaces or worksites with more than 50 employees to L&I within 24 hours.

We will continue to keep you posted as we receive updates.


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