Masks are an effective way to reduce spread of COVID-19
The State of Washington has removed most COVID-19 restrictions, but COVID-19 is still present in our communities. If you're not vaccinated, masks are still required in most settings. For more information about what's required, please see our Safe Reopening FAQ and blog. We are working to update our webpages to reflect these changes.
|Location||Fully Vaccinated (two weeks after completing vaccine series)||Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated|
|Crowded outdoor public places (outdoor events, busy streets or trails)||✔
(when six feet distance can't be maintained)
|Indoor public places, in general||✔|
|Indoor public places where business owners request or require a mask policy for everyone||✔||✔|
|All hospitals, long-term care, doctor's offices, testing/vaccination sites, correctional facilities, homeless service sites, schools and childcare, or on public transportation||✔||✔|
Snug-fitting masks can provide excellent protection against COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks in many settings. However, Public Health – Seattle & King County recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public settings like grocery, retail, theaters, and entertainment establishments. COVID-19 cases are increasing largely due to a corresponding increase in social activities, and the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
Masking in high-risk indoor public settings helps to protect everyone, including those that currently aren't able to be protected by the vaccine such as children under twelve, and those who are immune suppressed. Some vaccinated people may choose to wear a mask if they are at increased risk for severe infection, have an underlying health condition, or are in close contact with someone at increased risk. Some people also wear masks to protect themselves from other respiratory illnesses or allergens.
More information about face coverings
Wear face coverings that offer two or more layers of tightly woven fabric such as cotton and cotton blends that are breathable and provide a snug fit without gaps. The face covering must fit over your nose and mouth. It is important to save medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers and people who have special health needs.
To protect yourself, wear face coverings properly.
- Your mask should cover your nose and mouth at all times.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before you put on a face covering and after removing it.
- Change your face covering when it gets moist.
- Wash your face covering after each use.
Snug-fitting masks provide excellent protection.
- Make sure masks fit snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and around the edges of the mask.
- Use a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric, or wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.
- Choose masks with a nose wire or mask fitter
- For visuals of these tips, visit the CDC's guidance for improved mask use.
Some people do not need to wear masks, including:
- Babies and toddlers under age 2 should never wear cloth face coverings. Children ages 2-4 are encouraged to wear a face covering with adult supervision.
- Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
- Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate.
- Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
- Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or unable to remove the face covering without help.
Why is wearing a face covering important?
Cloth face coverings protect other people from getting COVID-19 from us when we talk, cough or sneeze.
Between 20-40 percent of people with COVID-19 don't show any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. Recent research suggests wearing a face covering can significantly reduce the incidence of COVID-19. Until more of us are vaccinated, wearing masks will prevent spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated populations, including children younger than 12 and people with compromised immune systems.
Businesses, employers, and non-profits
Businesses and organizations with indoor public spaces are required to post signs explaining their mask policy. Organizations can download a sign that can be used for this purpose below, or use this Business Signage Toolkit from the Washington Department of Health.
Link/share our site at kingcounty.gov/masks