King County to end vaccine verification policy March 1

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County announced Wednesday they are lifting the COVID-19 vaccination verification requirements for restaurants, bars, concerts, gyms and other indoor locations on March 1.

The announcement comes after COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates decrease across the county.

The verification requirements were also lifted for outdoor activities, such as collegiate and professional sports, and concerts.

Officials said that over 87% of King County residents over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

“Our public health experts believe that now is the appropriate time to lift 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 additional steps toward recovery,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine

The policy first went into effect Oct. 25, 2021 after being announced in September during a surge in cases from the Delta variant. It required either verification of full vaccination or a recent negative test to enter indoor entertainment and recreational spaces, indoor restaurants and bars and outdoor events with 500 people or more.

Businesses and organizations may continue to require the verification rules for their locations.

“The steady decline in positive cases is much needed positive news. Seattle will continue to follow public health guidance and adopt strategies that best keep our communities safe,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

Additionally, King County and Seattle announced remote employees would begin returning to their offices in March. Officials said the return to the office will be gradual and departments will evaluate in-person, remote, and hybrid arrangements.

Health officials caution that everyone should continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 risk, including wear masks, getting vaccinated and limiting time in crowded spaces.