King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Wednesday that Public Health Seattle & King County will lift its local health order requiring people show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as of March 1.
The order has been in place since October of last year and required people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to enter places such as bars and restaurants, as well as indoor and outdoor events such as athletic contests and concerts.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, our aim has been to protect the health of our community and save lives,” Constantine said in a press release. “Our public health experts believe that now is the time to lift the vaccine verification, based on high rates of vaccine coverage and the decrease in new cases and hospitalizations across the county. We are moving in the right direction and can continue taking steps toward recovery.”
Businesses will still be allowed to keep a vaccine verification system in place if they so choose.
According to the health department, 80% of residents ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated, and 92% have received at least one shot.
Dr. Jeff Duchin, the county’s public health officer, said that since the Omicron variant surge, the county has seen a “steady reduction” in the number of positive tests and in hospitalizations.
According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, there has been a 24% decrease in new cases over the past seven days compared to the previous week and a 16% reduction in hospitalizations. There has been an 80% decrease in new cases and a 60% decrease in hospitalizations since mid-January.
Duchin said “layered prevention” still remains important.
“Everyone should continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 risk, including getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible, using high-quality, well-fitting face masks, improving indoor air quality through ventilation and filtration, and limiting time in crowded and poorly-ventilated indoor spaces,” he said.
Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell also announced that restrictions on in-office work for county and city employees will be lifted. That means some 10,000 employees will gradually transition from remote work as departments evaluate whether in-person, still remote or a hybrid mix is necessary.
“These steps forward show we are moving in the right direction and reflecting that our region’s strong COVID response is the result of a united team effort,” Harrell said. “With city employees who had previously been working from home beginning to return to the office in mid-March, I look forward to keeping up that collaborative spirit as we drive forward an equitable, community-focused recovery.”
This article was originally posted on King County announces end of vaccine required policy