State lifting COVID-19 health restrictions

For the first time since March 2020, Washington state businesses are able to open at full capacity, with the majority of COVID-19 restrictions lifted.

Gov. Jay Inslee removed the majority of capacity constraints and social distancing requirements on businesses Wednesday, allowing restaurants, bars and other businesses to open to full indoor capacity levels.

Jefferson County’s universal masking mandate is also lifted Wednesday, with the county following state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah’s masking directive.

There have already been fewer masking requirements since last month, when the state adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that eased most indoor mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people.

Masking rules will remain in place at health care settings — like hospitals and doctor’s offices — correctional facilities, homeless shelters and schools, and masks will continue to be required for unvaccinated employees who return to work indoors. And businesses can continue to choose to require masks for their customers, regardless of vaccination status.

Large indoor events of more than 10,000 people, like concerts, still will be restricted to 75 percent capacity unless the event does vaccination verification prior to entry and all attendees are vaccinated. Those restrictions will be reevaluated July 31, Inslee’s office said.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry is worried about cases rising locally with the lifting of the restrictions.

“It’s concerning,” she said. “I think parts of the state that have very high vaccination rates like Seattle are likely going to be fine.

“When the restrictions are lifted in places like Clallam County, when we currently have moderate to high transmission and we have somewhat lower vaccination rates, we’re likely to see even more infections after the restrictions are lifted.”

Berry stressed that although people can gather in large groups indoors, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to do if those people are unvaccinated.

“What is allowable and what is healthy is different,” she said. “If you are fully vaccinated, it is safe to live your life normally.

“But, if you’re unvaccinated, we strongly recommend against spending any prolonged time indoors with other unvaccinated people. Certainly doing so unmasked is also something we do not recommend.”

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, urge the unvaccinated to continue to wear face masks.

The latest data shows 74.3 percent of Jefferson County residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations, with 71.2 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 67.2 percent of the total population has started vaccinations, and 64.2 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Jefferson County has 73.1 percent of its population 12 and older starting vaccinations, with 69.8 percent fully vaccinated, while Clallam County has 62.5 percent of its population 12 and older initiating vaccinations, with 58.2 percent of them fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Clallam County has vaccinated 64.3 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one dose, with 60.1 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 55.5 percent of the total population has begun vaccinations and 51.7 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Locke believes counties would be better protected if 80 percent or more of the population 12 and older — the population eligible for vaccinations — were vaccinated.

Berry stressed that although people can gather in large groups indoors, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to do if those people are unvaccinated.

“What is allowable and what is healthy is different,” she said. “If you are fully vaccinated, it is safe to live your life normally.

“But, if you’re unvaccinated, we strongly recommend against spending any prolonged time indoors with other unvaccinated people. Certainly doing so unmasked is also something we do not recommend.”

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, urge the unvaccinated to continue to wear face masks.

The latest data shows 74.3 percent of Jefferson County residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations, with 71.2 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 67.2 percent of the total population has started vaccinations, and 64.2 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Jefferson County has 73.1 percent of its population 12 and older starting vaccinations, with 69.8 percent fully vaccinated, while Clallam County has 62.5 percent of its population 12 and older initiating vaccinations, with 58.2 percent of them fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Clallam County has vaccinated 64.3 percent of residents 16 and older with at least one dose, with 60.1 percent of them fully vaccinated, while 55.5 percent of the total population has begun vaccinations and 51.7 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

Locke believes counties would be better protected if 80 percent or more of the population 12 and older — the population eligible for vaccinations — were vaccinated.

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