Washington Reinstates Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: A hotel employee wears a mask inside a lobby on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser restored a COVID-19 indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, starting Saturday. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Kevin Dietsch/Getty

Washington officially reinstated its statewide indoor mask mandate on Monday —  months after lifting the requirement for fully vaccinated individuals — forcing businesses to discriminate against individuals who are not wearing masks.

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a former Democrat presidential candidate, announced the reemergence of the statewide mask mandate, requiring both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to wear masks in indoor settings beginning Monday, August 23.

“Businesses are prohibited from allowing customers to enter or remain in an indoor space in a business unless the customer is wearing a face covering, in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s face covering order,” the Democrat governor’s proclamation reads.

A sign requiring mask use is seen outside of a store in Union Station on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser restored a coronavirus indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, starting Saturday. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“Businesses must post signage in a prominent location visible to customers at each entry informing customers of the face covering requirement,” it continues, issuing the same expectations to employees.

Exceptions are limited but include isolated office spaces or areas where one is working alone, such as in his or her vehicle.

“We have seen over the last year how widespread masking also saves lives by reducing infection,” Inslee said at the time, acknowledging that the mask mandate will “frustrate some vaccinated folks who thought they wouldn’t have to do this anymore.”

“There are not enough people vaccinated. The result is the explosive growth of a much more infectious strain, the Delta variant, and its increasingly concerns impacts on people of all ages,” he continued.

Notably, Inslee has followed the path laid out by his blue state counterparts and is requiring educators in the state to be vaccinated. The requirement applies to workers at private and charter schools as well.

According to the governor’s office, “individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal.”

People wear masks as they walk through Union Station on July 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The state’s controversial mask requirement follows months of public health officials pitching vaccination as the primary way to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Yet, in recent weeks, some officials have walked back their positions, reintroducing mask mandates.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backtracked over the summer, urging vaccinated individuals to “wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”

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