The current statewide mask order for healthcare settings is set to expire on April 3.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Starting in April, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will end its statewide mask order for people five years and older in healthcare facilities.
The DOH is dropping its Secretary of Health Mask Order on April 3 because health officials said COVID-19, RSV and influenza disease rates and hospitalizations have continued to decline since the end of 2022.
The current mask order requires universal masking in healthcare, long-term care and adult correctional facilities.
Even with the mask order ending, the DOH said local or tribal governments, facilities and providers may choose to continue to require masks in these or other settings.
“Masks have been – and will continue to be – an important tool, along with vaccinations, to keep people healthy and safe,” said Umair A. Shah, secretary of health. “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.”
The mask order is the latest in relaxing COVID-19 restrictions in Washington state.
Seattle and King County moved to drop its vaccine mandate on Feb. 6 after nearly two years in effect. King County’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation was dropped on the same day.
With the mask order set to expire next month, state health officials still recommend masks for patients, healthcare providers and visitors in healthcare settings. Licensed healthcare facilities are required to have infection prevention policies and programs consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
The DOH said employees and contractors can use facemasks or other personal protective equipment without employer retaliation, according to worker protection requirements enforced by the state’s Department of Labor & Industries.
Several key worker protections remain in place until the federal pandemic response declaration ends on May 11.