Healthcare

Seattle area to require COVID-19 vaccine to enter indoor venues

Customers at Seattle-area restaurants, gyms and other indoor venues will soon be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 under a new county health order issued Thursday. 

The order, which goes into effect Oct. 25, mandates that indoor restaurants and bars with the capacity to seat at least 12 people require all customers 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination prior to entry. 

The requirements also apply to indoor entertainment and recreational venues, including movie theaters, museums and sports arenas in Seattle's King County. 

County Health Officer Jeff Duchin also noted in the order that starting Oct. 25, outdoor venues with 500 or more people must require attendees to provide proof of vaccination, with restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of less than 12 required to put a vaccine mandate in place starting Dec. 6. 

Duchin noted that in lieu of a vaccine card, customers and patrons may also present documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, or a negative rapid test "administered by a testing provider on site at the event site." 

The order defines "fully vaccinated" against COVID-19 as 14 days past an individual's final dose of a Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine. 

Duchin said the order will remain in effect for at least six months, adding, "I strongly recommend that employers and event organizers require vaccination for the workers and volunteers at the events and establishments covered by this order." 

The mandate is similar to ones recently issued by cities such as New York and San Francisco for indoor events and activities as local governments aim to boost economic activity while also encourage more vaccinations amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. 

According to data from the country's health department, nearly 74 percent of the area's total population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 68 percent fully vaccinated. 

In an effort to boost vaccination rates, the Washington state government has implemented inoculation requirements for state employees, school workers and health care workers. 

Under Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's (D) mandate, all state employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or risk being blocked from working. 

The measure has prompted pushback from some public employees, dozens of whom filed a lawsuit against Inslee last week, arguing that the mandate was an abuse of power and violated the state's constitution.

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