Washington state reopens after over a year of pandemic restrictions

WASHINGTON STATE — After over a year of restrictions put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington state fully reopened Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced in May that Washington would fully reopen June 30 or when the state reached a 70% vaccination threshold. He reaffirmed last week that the state would still reopen Wednesday whether the vaccination threshold was met or not.

The Washington State Department of Health reported that 68% of residents 16 and older had begun the vaccination process as of Tuesday morning.

Starting Wednesday, all businesses will be able to return to normal capacity and operations, something that hasn’t happened since the first stay-at-home order was announced March 23, 2020.

There will be no more statewide physical distancing requirements but businesses still retain the right to make their own rules, which can include requiring customers to wear masks.

Washington also adopted the CDC’s masking guidelines that state people who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear facial coverings.

However, this does not apply to health care settings like hospitals, long-term care, or doctor’s offices; correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or schools.

The only limitation that will remain following Wednesday’s reopening is for large indoor events. These spaces are defined as anything with more than 10,000 simultaneous participants in an enclosed space. Events of this kind are limited to 75% capacity unless everyone is fully vaccinated until at least July 31.

Read more specifics about the reopening here.