Concerts, sporting matches and other large events will now require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for indoor events with 1,000 people or more, or for outdoor events with more than 10,000 people.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate goes into effect Monday. Inslee announced the mandate last month after worries about rising COVID rates and specifically the impact of the more-contagious delta variant that threatened to overwhelm local hospitals.
The order applies to everyone 12 and older. The requirement covers ticketed or registered events with defined entrances, not venues like shopping malls, museums or grocery stores that are open to the public.
Masks at major events in the King County area have been mandatory since early September, but mask use and enforcement is disparate. Broadcasts of sporting events often show fans with masks slipped below their nose or with bare faces.
Eventgoers must present proof of full vaccination status by showing their record card (or a photo of it), a printed certificate or screenshot from WA Verify or other immunization records from health providers. They also have the option of showing a negative test result that was taken within 72 hours of the event. Large events do not include those operated or managed at primary or secondary schools. The mandate excludes religious or faith-based groups.
Shelly Tolo, president at Tolo Events, a Seattle-based event production company, is thankful the new mandate provides options for large events to take place rather than limiting the number of guests or shutting down events altogether.
“At least with this mandate, we had a fairly good heads-up that something was going to be happening,” Tolo said. “It’s given [us] an opportunity to prepare.”
Tolo said some clients are providing rapid testing or are having people preregister with their proof of vaccination or testing.
In King County, 72.3% of the total population — or about 1.6 million people — have been fully vaccinated according to the most recent data from Public Health – Seattle & King County. At the state level, 60.8% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated.
COVID cases have been on the decline in recent weeks, and officials are cautiously optimistic. In a recent interview with The Seattle Times, Inslee said that he is still deciding whether to mandate vaccines for school-age children, but added, “There is one clear thing that we know. We can get on top of this virus by getting vaccinated.”