Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced new vaccine requirements on Oct. 14 for individuals who want to attend large events.
Speaking at a press conference, Inslee said that Washington state had seen a huge jump in the number of people getting vaccinated but said more still needs to be done to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“We cannot and we will not surrender to this disease. We cannot and we will not think that the status quo is good enough,” Inslee said. “We have got to get on top of this disease and knock these numbers down.”
Effective Nov. 15, large events in Washington state will be required to verify that all attendees 12 and older are either fully vaccinated or received a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.
The new requirement will apply to indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees, and outdoor events when there are more than 10,000 attendees.
The mandate only applies to “ticketed or registered” events like concerts, conventions, and sporting events. It does not apply to religious services or school-based events.
Inslee also clarified that the requirement will not apply to venues like shopping malls, museums, or grocery stores that are open to the public “as part of their operations”.
Elsewhere during Thursday’s press conference, Inslee noted that Washington state has been “remarkably successful in increasing the vaccination rate for state workers”.
The governor said that over 90 percent of state workers were now vaccinated, adding that it was 49.1 percent on Sept. 6.
“That number has actually gone up since then and continues to go up every day, this is extremely gratifying,” Inslee said.
“It is gratifying because we now know there will not be a mass exodus of state employees and we will be able to continue essential state services for the people of the state of Washington,” he added.
Inslee’s announcement comes just days before his Oct. 18 deadline for state employees, health care, and long-term care workers as well as those working in schools and other educational settings to prove they’re vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
The employee vaccine mandate has been heavily criticized by opponents, including a group of nearly 90 Washington state troopers, firefighters, and other employees who last month filed a lawsuit against Inslee, claiming that his mandate exceeded the authority of his office and violated the rights of state workers guaranteed by the state’s constitution.
Other states and local governments have allowed employees to choose to have weekly COVID-19 testing as an alternative to getting vaccinated.
Inslee said Monday’s deadline will not be extended
“People have had ten weeks to get vaccinated, we’ve had plenty of opportunity and access to the vaccinations and people now need to make a choice,” he said.
“Some individuals who chose to walk away from their state employment, we want them to know we appreciate their state service today and wish them well,” the governor added.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, 77.6 percent of Washingtonians 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Oct. 11, while 71.4 percent of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
Washington state’s latest vaccine mandate comes shortly after Los Angeles approved one of the strictest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the country.
Los Angeles, on Oct. 6, approved its new vaccine mandate requiring anyone aged 12 or above to provide proof of vaccination to enter indoor venues such as indoor restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, salons, indoor government facilities, shopping centers, and more.
The mandate will become effective as of Nov. 4, but does not apply to pharmacies and grocery stores.
Exceptions will also be made for individuals with valid medical exemptions and for those with a “sincerely held religious belief,” which will be reviewed by the location the person wishes to enter.
For people with religious or medical exemptions, negative COVID-19 tests within 72 hours of entry will be required, according to the ordinance.