TIMELINE: A look at masking up in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. — The countdown is on — starting Saturday, March 12, masks will no longer be required at most indoor places in Washington.

But as we know, this isn’t the first time masks have been been able to come off in the state due to lower COVID case numbers.

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At the start of the pandemic, we did not have a vaccine for COVID-19.

Staying home as much as possible, social distancing and wearing masks were our only means of protection.

But masks weren’t required by the state until June 2020.

COVID cases were rising across the state and hospitals were filling up fast.

That’s why Governor Inslee issued the first statewide mandate for indoor and crowded outdoor areas.

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Almost a year later, in May 2021, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) adopted new guidance from the CDC and the mask mandate was lifted.

People fully vaccinated no longer needed to wear masks in most indoor settings and outdoor spaces.

This happened shortly before plans to reopen the state’s economy.

Businesses like movie theaters and restaurants could reopen at full capacity at the end of June.

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Then come August 2021, Washingtonians would be required to mask up once again, regardless of vaccination status.

This is the mask mandate we’ve been living with for nearly seven months now due to the delta variant fueling a risein COVID cases and hospitalizations.

We’ve also seen the spread of the omicron variant and the vaccination rate in Washington was unable to keep up.


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Just over two years into the pandemic, we’re seeing another downtrend in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

On Saturday, or 11:59 p.m. Friday, masks will no longer be required for anyone in most indoor spaces.

It was first announced the mandate would be lifted nearly a week from now, but the new date is based on new guidance from the CDC.

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