Washington Reopens: what you need to know

What the state’s reopening means for daily life

Washington — we made it! Today, our state reopens: a new beginning made possible by all who did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Washington.

As we celebrate this milestone, we know there are still questions about what reopening actually means. How is the Washington of today different than yesterday? Will mask wearing and physical distancing remain?

Here are some of the basics to know about reopening — and how it may impact your plans for this summer, and beyond.

What exactly does reopening mean?

You can think of reopening as a return to “business as usual.” Most businesses — including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, grocery stores and offices — get to operate like they did before the pandemic. That means no capacity or occupancy limits, so long as they’re following the workplace safety requirements set by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

There are no capacity limits for outdoor events or most indoor gatherings. The only exception is for very large indoor events (10,000+ attendees). Those events will stay at 75% capacity, for now.

Do I need to wear a mask or physical distance?

That depends largely upon your vaccination status.

There is still a mask order in place for unvaccinated people ages 2 and older. This helps protect not only those who are unvaccinated, but also vulnerable people with auto-immune or other conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.

People who are not vaccinated should continue to keep 6 feet of distance in public and keep gatherings small.

Fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear masks in public and do not need to distance from others. However, masks are still needed for travel and public transportation, at schools, in health care settings, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.

Even though that’s state policy, counties and businesses have the right to enforce masking and distancing, regardless of vaccination status. That’s why our mantra is to “respect the room you’re in.”

Why is the reopening happening now? Isn’t COVID-19 still spreading?

Washington’s reopening was based on either reaching 70% of people ages 16 and older getting their first dose of the vaccine; or by hitting June 30, whichever happened first. Well, we hit June 30th and 68.8% of people 16 and older in Washington have had their first vaccine.

We can all give ourselves a pat on the back for reaching this milestone. Washingtonians have been cautious in reopening, and it’s paid off.

Just remember, COVID-19 will stay with us as long as new variants keep showing up. And the best way to stop the new variants is through vaccination. That’s why it’s so important to get your vaccine as soon as you’re ready. Unvaccinated people should continue to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any symptoms or had any known exposures.

We encourage everyone to sign up for WA Notify as an added layer of protection for yourself and your community. This free tool alerts you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19 without sharing any personal information.

Can my friends and family visit Washington?

Yes, we can welcome back our loved ones! Vaccinated family and friends can visit Washington with ease. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals hold off on travel, for now. If they do travel, remind them to follow CDC recommendations for testing and quarantining.

Is it OK to be anxious or have concerns?

Absolutely. Hesitation and uncertainty about the “new normal” are to be expected. The last 18+ months have been taxing on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Some of us may have become used to a slower pace of life. Others may feel uneasy about being in crowded spaces again. All of these feelings are normal.

In a recent series, we shared the four R’s of healing: Reflect, Release, Restore and Rise. These posts include tips for easing the transition.

If you need someone to talk to about stress due to COVID-19, call Washington Listens at 1–833–681–0211 for support. You can also contact your healthcare provider.

So, get out there and celebrate Washington’s reopening. And enjoy the summer, you earned it!

More information

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 12 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

Public Health Connection

From the Washington State Department of Health