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Reporting Outbreaks

Report outbreaks to Public Health

Resources for Workers

The economic disruption unleashed by COVID-19 has posed great challenges for the region’s workers. There are resources to help workers during these difficult times and laws to protect your rights in the workplace. Learn more: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/workers.aspx

Free Employment Resources in King County

Rental Assistance in King County

Public Health — Seattle & King County strongly discourages employers from requiring workers to get tested after they have completed isolation or quarantine. We have drafted a letter that you can share with your employer explaining the rationale for this policy. (https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/~/media/depts/health/communicable-diseases/documents/C19/statement-return-to-work-testing-EN.ashx)

Many people who have recovered from the virus continue to test positive for several weeks after they have recovered, but this does not mean they are still contagious. If you have completed the recommended isolation period, you are no longer contagious. Therefore:

  • If you tested positive and had symptoms, you may return to work 10 days after your symptoms first appeared and your symptoms have improved, and you have gone 24 hours without fever without using a fever-reducing medication.
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 but didn't have symptoms, you can return to work 10 days after the test.
  • If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms, Public Health recommends the following:

*Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option.

*If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact, without additional testing.

*If the first two options are not possible, stay in quarantine for 7 full days beginning after your last contact and if you receive a negative test result (get tested no sooner than day 5 after your last contact). This option depends on availability of testing resources and may not be recommended in some settings.

Re-opening Requirements for All Businesses

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has posted complete Phase 1 and 2 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements and a helpful summary of guidance. You can also find more information for specific sectors on Gov. Jay Inslee's website.


Post COVID-19 policies in a language your employees can understand. Inform them about the symptoms and risk factors associated with the virus; the importance of frequent and thorough handwashing and social distancing; and the need to stay home when sick. King County has educational materials in many languages to help employers fulfill this requirement.

This poster explains basic information for employees:

Reopening business poster for staff: Workplace requirements during COVID-19

Reopening business poster for staff: Workplace requirements during COVID-19

Slides on safety requirements for workplaces can be used for employee education. (Powerpoint)

Maintain at least six feet of separation between employees and customers at all times, including between tables at restaurants, customers waiting in line, and people using elevators. Businesses may need to print posters encouraging this behavior, such as only allowing 1-2 people per elevator depending on the size of the cab, or place tape or markers on the floor six feet apart.

When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other measures are required, such as installing barriers, reducing staff or staggering worker hours.

Provide cloth face coverings and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous. Workers can wear their own face coverings, provided they meet minimum requirements.

Some jobs require higher levels of personal protective equipment because they have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. You can find information about additional face coverings in Labor and Industries’ Which Mask for Which Task.

Provide cloth masks and require employees to wear them unless they are working alone or have a condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous.

More information about face coverings and King County's Face Covering Directive: kingcounty.gov/masks

Require frequent handwashing and provide the necessary supplies. Supplies may include additional sinks or stations where employees can wash their hands. If regular handwashing with soap and water is not possible employers must supply hand sanitizer.

Download handwashing posters in multiple languages: www.kingcounty.gov/stopgerms

Provide disposable gloves where appropriate to prevent virus transmission on shared tools and other equipment.

Regularly clean and sanitize your workplace, especially frequently touched surfaces. Each workplace should establish a cleaning schedule and ensure that high-touch areas are routinely sanitized.

Check to see if employees have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Use this COVID-19 Screening Tool and keep a log that the screening process was followed for all employees.

If they do, send them home and advise them to seek testing.

Exposed employees with a known exposure time (no longer than a day) should be tested no sooner than 48 hours from their exposure date.

Due to limited lab capacity for processing tests, only people with symptoms or who are close contacts of confirmed cases should get tested.

Unless they work in health care or long-term care facilities, employers should not require workers to submit a negative COVID-19 test result or a positive antibody test before starting a job or returning to work after recovering from the virus.

Workers can return when at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared, and at least 24 hours have passed since their fever resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications, and their other symptoms have improved.

Post a sign near your business entrance strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth masks.

Consider making this a requirement for all customers.

Reopening business poster for customers: Prevent the spread of COVID-19

Some people are exempt from mask requirements for health and safety reasons. Reference this toolkit and educate employees to understand mask exemptions.


Protect one another: Wear a face covering and keep 6 feet apart from others in public spaces.

This poster asking customers to wear face coverings is available multiple languages:

It is against the law for any employer to fire or retaliate against a worker for reporting concerns about health and safety. In addition, Governor Inslee has ordered that employees in high-risk groups for COVID-19 must be granted leave if they can't report to work for health reasons. Read the guidance memo for Proclamation 20-46.1 about "High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights" here.

FAQs about high-risk workers

Can office workers be required to return to the workplace?

Yes. While much office work might be performed remotely, some employers may wish to return some workers to the workplace. The governor's Professional Services COVID-19 Requirements do not preclude or prevent this - employers may require some employees to return. High-risk workers, however, must be afforded "reasonable accommodation" to reduce their risk of infection.

If a worker is "high-risk" but has exhausted their sick and vacation time, what can they do if alternative work arrangements cannot be made?

High-risk workers are generally protected from adverse employment action under the proclamation, although employers are not obligated to pay beyond any accrued paid time off. 

According to Proclamation 20-46.2, "Employers are prohibited from failing to utilize all available options for alternative work assignments to protect high-risk employees, if requested, from exposure to the COVID-19 disease, including but not limited to telework, alternative or remote work locations, reassignment, and social distancing measures."

In short, the employer must consider alternative work arrangements for high-risk workers. If impossible, the employer is not obligated to pay for unworked hours, but may not take adverse employment action.


Effective July 7, the Governor's Safe Start Proclamation requires employers in King County (in non-healthcare settings) to notify Public Health – Seattle & King County *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.

More information about what to do if an employee has COVID, and how to report.

Additional Toolkits

Find Face Coverings and Masks

Chambers and business organizations throughout King County have joined together to get face coverings, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer to businesses in King County.

Learn how to request masks from King County

Funding Opportunities

Check with your city to learn whether there are currently funding opportunities available in addition to the opportunities below.

Paycheck Protection Program:

At least $25 billion is being set aside for Second Draw PPP Loans to eligible borrowers with a maximum of 10 employees or for loans of $250,000 or less to eligible borrowers in low or moderate income neighborhoods. Find more information regarding application requirements and technical guidance on the Washington State Department of Commerce’s website and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 business relief page.

https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options

Contact

For non-medical questions about COVID-19, including compliance and business related issues, contact King County COVID-19 Business and Community Information Line at 206-296-1608, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

If you are a food business owner or a food worker and have questions related to your operation, please reach out to your Health Investigator or call 206-263-9566 to speak with office staff.

Restaurants and Taverns

Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR)

King County's Safe Start for Taverns and Restaurants (SSTAR) program provides education and materials to help restaurants implement state and public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also increases the accountability of food service establishments to abide by the health and safety standards that support a safe reopening.

Visit the STTAR website for guidelines for restaurants and other food businesses.