During a press briefing on Feb. 16, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Public Health Officer Jeff Duchin announced the county’s COVID-19 vaccination verification requirement will be lifted on March 1, 2022.
The requirement was announced five months ago to the day. Now the county is in a position where the vaccine requirement to enter businesses is no longer needed, Constantine said.
“It’s important to acknowledge that this pandemic is not over, but the current situation indicates this policy is no longer needed,” Constantine said.
In addition to this, county workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic will begin returning to work in-person in mid-March, Constantine said.
The decision to lift the vaccine verification requirement is supported by science, Duchin said.
For one thing, 87.5% of the county’s population ages 12 years and older is fully vaccinated. That number is even higher for people who have had at least one shot, Duchin said. With nearly nine out of 10 people in King County being fully vaccinated, the need for the requirement has dropped.
In addition to this, while cases and hospitalizations are still high, they are on a downward trend, Duchin said. Furthermore, hospitals are in a better position now than they were in September when the requirement was first put into place.
While businesses will no longer be required by the county to ask their customers for proof of vaccination prior to entry, it is still their right to do so, Constantine said.
“Businesses can continue to require proof of vaccination. It is their choice,” Constantine said.
Going forward, it is still important to follow the layered safety protocols such as wearing masks indoors and getting tested if you are symptomatic, Duchin said.
Both Duchin and Constantine expressed optimism looking forward.
“All indicators are heading downwards, so we’re optimistic it will pose less of a threat,” Duchin said.