State’s mask requirements for healthcare, adult correctional facilities lifted Monday

Washington’s mask requirements inside healthcare and other facilities ended on Monday.

The state Department of Health announced it was ending the universal masking requirement on March 3.

The Secretary of Health Mask Order required masking in healthcare, long-term care, and prisons or jails for people ages 5 and older.

The policy had been in effect since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but health experts said that after months of declining cases, hospitalizations and deaths, now is the time to end it.

A similar announcement was also made by the state of Oregon last month.

“Masks have been – and will continue to be – an important tool, along with vaccinations, to keep people healthy and safe,” said Washington state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, MD, MPH. “We are thankful for our health and long-term care providers, staff members, patients, and all Washingtonians, for following the important public health measures put in place during the pandemic to protect one another.”

Health experts say they’ve also seen a decline in RSV and flu cases since the end of last year.