Governor Inslee Announces Mask Rule Changes Taking Effect March 12

Mar 10, 2022   Print PDF

Related Practice: Employment

Citing dropping hospitalization rates and improving vaccination rates, Governor Inslee has lifted certain indoor mask requirements as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11 in Washington State. Governor Inslee had previously announced restrictions would be lifted on March 21, and has since accelerated the deadline.

As of March 12, state law will no longer require face masks in most settings. Restrictions will be lifted in the following types of venues – though individual venues, stores, school districts, and other entities remain able to set more strict requirements: 

  • Schools, childcare facilities, and libraries 

  • Restaurants and bars 

  • Houses of worship  

  • Gyms, recreation centers, and indoor athletic facilities 

  • Grocery stores, businesses, and retail establishments  

Face masks will still be required in the following settings: 

  • Healthcare and medical facilities, including hospitals, outpatient, dental facilities, and pharmacies 

  • Long-term care settings 

  • Public transit, taxis, rideshare vehicles, and school busses  

  • Correctional facilities 

  • Private business and local governments that choose to continue masking requirements for employees, customers, or residents 

COVID-19 is still a recognized workplace hazard, and employers must continue taking steps to assess COVID-19 transmission risks to employees and minimize those risks. Risks vary by workplace, and possible steps can include promoting vaccination, improving ventilation, offering face masks, and encouraging social distancing. Employers are still required to notify workers of potential exposures, and worksites with more than 50 employees must report outbreaks of 10 or more confirmed cases to the state Department of Labor & Industries.   

Importantly, though face masks will no longer be required in most settings, under RCW 49.17.485 and Proclamation 21-08.1, most employers must permit workers to wear masks if they choose and may not take adverse employment actions against employees for doing so. 

Additional resources:

Updated L&I Guidance for Workplaces: L&I Requirements and Guidance for Preventing COVID-19 (wa.gov)

March 11, 2022 updated Governor’s Proclamation: 20-25.19 - COVID-19 Washington Ready (tmp).pdf

Contact Aviva KammSarah WixsonAmy AlexanderMaricarmen Perez-Vargas, or any member of the Employment Group for compliance help.