Starting today, October 25, customers are required to verify full vaccination status or a negative test to participate in outdoor public events of 500 or more people and indoor entertainment and recreational establishments and events such as live music, performing arts, gyms, restaurants, and bars. This temporary policy aims to protect customers and workers, preserve local hospital capacity, and help keep businesses open.
Customers will be eating out and going to events and establishments more safely, and workers will be better protected against COVID-19 infection beginning today, October 25, as King County's vaccine verification policy goes into effect for many indoor and outdoor venues.
Supported by health care, business, community, arts and culture, and night life venue partners across the county, the Health Order requires either verification of full vaccination or proof of negative test administered with the past 72 hours to enter the following locations:
- Outdoor events with 500 people or more – such as professional and collegiate sports and entertainment events.
- Indoor entertainment and recreational events or establishments – such as professional and collegiate sports, entertainment, performing arts, museums, theatre, live music, gyms, and conferences/conventions.
- Restaurants and bars (including indoor dining) – this does not apply to outdoor dining, take-out customers, and places that aren't primarily used as a restaurant, such as grocery stores.
"Vaccination is by far our best defense against COVID-19, and with over 87 percent of eligible King County residents having received at least their first vaccine dose, this vaccine verification policy ensures we can protect our community's health and economy," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Since announcing the new health order last month, King County has worked diligently to help businesses and residents in preparing for today's start date, and will continue to do so moving forward."
"Every step of the way, Seattle has led in our response to the pandemic, and our collective actions continue to save lives. As businesses and organizations implement the new verification policy, remember to have your proof of vaccination and be kind to the employees who are implementing this important public health order. With vaccine verification, we are acting boldly to change the trajectory of the virus while keeping our workers, customers, and community safe and healthy," said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan.
Since the vaccine verification policy was announced in September, King County has continued to work with community partners, businesses, and cities to support a smooth launch. In particular, Public Health – Seattle & King County has partnered closely with the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce to launch KC Vax Verified, a website with resources to help businesses prepare for and implement the new health order, including downloadable posters to make customers and staff aware of the new policy.
"King County businesses have been hard at work getting ready to implement the new vaccine verification requirements to ensure that there are no surprises for staff or customers," said Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber. "Throughout the pandemic, businesses have continued to be innovative and resilient as they navigate ways to keep our community safe. As customers, please continue to support your local businesses and have patience and grace as businesses adjust to the health order."
Public Health has created video resources to help the public, including an overview of what to expect and tips on how to save a vaccine card image for easy smartphone access. More resources are available at www.kingcounty.gov/verify, including translated materials in up to 17 languages.
Several forms of vaccination proof will be permitted under the Order, including:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, or photo or photocopy of card.
- Other official immunization record from within or outside the United States, including from your health care or vaccine provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
- Digital record or printed certificate from MyIRMobile.com or other apps. (MyIR Mobile is currently limited to English language only. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 833-VAX-HELP (833-829-4357) or email email@example.com). Please note that the MyIR QR code is not currently operational.
"The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, and causes severe illness," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "King County's vaccine verification program will help prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our healthcare system, and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers."
An analysis by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted for King County found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could have a significant positive impact in reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
The Health Order defines full vaccination as two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after completing another approved COVID-19 vaccine. No personal identification with proof of vaccination will be required. Employees at covered establishments are not required to be vaccinated under this order.
The Order gives the option for a longer preparation period for smaller restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 12 or less, with an implementation date of December 6. The entire Order is temporary, and will be reviewed no later than six months after the October 25 implementation date to assess its continued need based on future outbreak conditions.
People who are unvaccinated or cannot prove vaccine status will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered by a testing provider within the last 72 hours. Rapid tests used without the supervision of a testing provider will not be accepted. Individuals under 12 years of age, who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are not required to be tested for entry.
King County joins several jurisdictions that have already adopted some form of vaccine verification policy, including New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Honolulu, Los Angeles County, the State of California, British Columbia in Canada, and Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington state.
Enforcement and equitable treatment
As with other Public Health orders, King County will focus on education and outreach to support people in following the health order. If there are complaints of patrons or businesses egregiously not following the order, County officials will contact businesses and event organizers and take action as feasible.
Employers, their employees, and volunteers, must implement this Order equitably and may not discriminate based on an individual's race, national origin, religion, or age. Businesses and venues should provide reasonable accommodation for those who are unable to provide proof of vaccination due to a disability.
Vaccination remains the best protection
The Delta variant is more than twice as contagious as the original COVID-19, which makes increasing vaccination rates even more important to slowing disease spread and protecting people from hospitalization and death.
Anyone needing COVID-19 vaccine can visit kingcounty.gov/vaccine to find a vaccination provider in their neighborhood. To date, more than three million vaccine doses have been administered in King County.
- Vaccine verification homepage
- Frequently Asked Questions on vaccine verification
- Local Health Officer Order – Vaccine Verification (September 16, 2021)
- Infographic explaining Health Order
- Video: Vaccination Verification – What to Expect
- King County Vax Verified toolkit for businesses
- Public Health Insider blog post on Health Order