OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new statewide COVID-19 vaccine requirement for large events.
Beginning Nov. 15, anyone 12 years old and up attending a large indoor event with at least 1,000 attendees or a large outdoor event with at least 10,000 attendees will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result taken within 72 hours of the event to be admitted.
Inslee said the new mandate is aimed at curbing the current COVID-19 surge and preventing another one from happening.
"We will not allow another wave to shut down schools, or our businesses," said Inslee.
Events impacted by this mandate include ticketed or registered events like conventions, concerts, sporting events, fairs and theme parks, according to Inslee’s office. The mandate does not include religious services or events that are held on K-12 school grounds.
Many large event venues and sports teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC and Seattle Kraken are already requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry. Inslee said the new mandate will create a uniform approach to large events across the state.
“Not every concert is doing this, not every arena is doing this,” said Inslee, who knows people are tired and frustrated of restrictions remaining in place indefinitely.
He said the new mandate is another way to incentivize vaccinations.
“That finish line gets closer if you get vaccinated, so help us out here," said Inslee. "Let’s get through this. We don’t want to have to wear masks forever.”
Similar requirements are set to take effect in King County starting Oct. 25 when COVID-19 vaccine verification will be required for indoor dining, gyms and indoor and outdoor events with more than 500 people.
Inslee’s announcement comes days ahead of the state’s vaccine mandate deadline on Oct. 18.
Inslee’s office said Thursday that it is not considering pushing back the mandate deadline, which applies to many state employees, school staff and health care workers across the state.
On Thursday, Inslee said that he was encouraged by the 91.4 percent vaccination rate among state employees so far, which leaves about 5,000 employees who have not provided proof of vaccination.
As of Monday, about 88 percent of health care workers had reported they were fully vaccinated, according to leaders in the hospital industry. Hospital leaders are anticipating losing roughly 2-5 percent of the hospital workforce next week due to the mandate.
Inslee said Thursday that the vaccination rates show that there will not be “massive disruptions” in services across the state, as many feared.
On Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said that while cases and hospitalizations have been on a decline recently, current masking rules and social distancing rules are not going anywhere.
Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah cited these rules, along with high vaccination rates, as the reason cases are declining in the first place.
As of Oct. 11, 71.4 percent of the state’s eligible population is vaccinated against COVID-19.
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