King County to require proof of COVID vaccination or negative test for restaurants, events, gyms

SEATTLE — King County officials announced on Thursday that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to enter large outdoor public events and all indoor recreation and entertainment businesses and events.

The requirement applies to outdoor public events of 500 or more people and all indoor event venues and businesses such as live music, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, professional and college sports, conferences and conventions.

The health order issued by Public Health Seattle and King County health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin will go into effect on Oct. 25 for outdoor venues and most indoor recreation and entertainment businesses and Dec. 6 for restaurants with a seating capacity of 12 or fewer.

The mandate does not apply to outdoor dining, takeout customers or places that aren’t primarily used as restaurants, such as grocery stores.

The order is not expected to be permanent and will be reviewed no more than six months after the Oct. 25 start date to determine its continued need.

“Our COVID-19 response must continue to adapt to the difficult, changing reality of this pandemic. The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, causes severe illness, and is seriously stressing our hospitals and health care providers,” said Duchin. “King County’s vaccine verification program will prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our health care system and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers.”

It will be up to businesses to check customers for proof of vaccination or negative test results.

Many bars and restaurants across the area have already been enforcing their own vaccine requirements, like the Kangaroo and Kiwi in Ballard.

“Everyone’s used to it now,” says owner Bradley Howe.

“I think it’s awesome,” says Gabby Vandenavond, who is visiting from Minnesota. “I think more places should do it.”

For tourists who may not know the new rules, Vandenavond says during the age of COVID, people should research local regulations before traveling.

“I heard that on the west coast it was happening more often, so we were prepared for that.”

As for what forms of vaccination proof will be allowed under the order, several are listed below:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination record card (or a photo of the card).
  • Printed certificate or QR code (available in late September) from MyIRMobile.com.
  • Other official immunization record from within or outside the United States, including from your health care provider. A photo or copy of the card is acceptable.

The order defines full vaccination as two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, two weeks after one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after completing another approved vaccine.

Those who aren’t vaccinated will be required to show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours or a negative rapid test result from a testing provider completed on-site at an event or business just before entering.

Children under 12 years old, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are not required to be tested to enter an event or business.

County officials said nearly 300,000 people who live in King County are eligible but have not yet been vaccinated.

Anyone needing COVID-19 vaccines can visit KingCounty.gov/vaccine to find a location in their neighborhood.

For help getting vaccine records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 833- VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) or email waissrecords@doh.wa.gov.