Gov. Inslee: Statewide mask mandate ends March 21
Last updated 2/17/2022 at 3pm
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that he’ll drop the statewide coronavirus-mask mandate March 21.
Inslee said that’s the day when he believes it’ll be safe to remove mask mandates and not overwhelm hospitals.
“It would not be safe to do this today,” he said. “We will be removing the mask mandate in our schools and public indoor spaces as of Monday, March 21.”
Students may still be required to wear masks on buses.
The governor added that he will not end his emergency proclamation at that time, declining to offer a date to end his declared emergency.
“The emergency order will not be lifted on March 21,” he said. “It needs to be maintained, in part, to have access to federal funds.”
Inslee’s comments came during a press conference Thursday, three days after the Kettle Falls School District ended mask mandates on campus and two days after the large Richland School District did likewise.
It also came two days after approximately 40 school superintendents in Northeast Washington sent a letter to the governor calling for an end to on-campus mask and contact tracing related to the coronavirus.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal also spoke during the press conference.
“This is a big moment,” he said. “This takes the state mandate out of the way.”
In his statements, Inslee said he also will end any vaccine verification requirements March 1 and will issue an order protecting the “rights” of residents who choose to continue wearing masks.
He also said businesses, “should they desire,” will be able to require employees and patrons to wear masks to be on the premises.