Gov. Inslee sets mask mandate to end March 11
Last updated 3/3/2022 at 7:39pm
CHENEY – Washington's indoor mask mandate is ending ahead of schedule.
Gov. Jay Islee made the announcement during a press conference Monday, Feb. 28. The original date for removing the mandate was set for March 20, but has been accelerated to March 11.
"We have good news today. We are turning a page in our fight against the COVID virus," Inslee said. "This page will be based more on empowering individuals and families and protecting themselves rather than based on government restrictions. We can do this because we are significantly declining the activity of the virus in our state — this is good news."
Inslee said Washington joins California and Oregon in announcing a shorter timeline in lifting the mask mandate including in the educational environment.
"After March 11, the vast majority of business and public spaces will be free of a mask mandate and that includes our schools in the State of Washington," Inslee said.
Inslee gave several reasons for ending the mandate.
"Our epigraph is showing a significant decline in COVID cases the last month and are seeing a significant continual level of reduction in the past two weeks and we are pleased with that," he said. "Obviously, the virus is still active in our state, but we are confident the decline will continue.
"This allows us to make a decision today to accelerate the date when our mask mandate for schools will be accelerated."
Inslee then touched on the decline of hospitalization rates.
"They are also coming down quite dramatically," Inslee said. "And given this has been the pattern across the world, we are confident that we can accelerate our demasking protocols going forward—that is also good news."
Inslee said that new guidance released last Friday by the CDC also played a part in his decision to end the mandate early.
"Our office and department of health experts have had a chance to look at the information they deposited. I think those guidelines reflect my view and our departments that we should be transitioning to a new phase in our efforts against COVID that particularly focuses more on hospitalization rates," Inslee said. "This is why we've been able to loosen several requirements related to gatherings, vaccinations and now masks."