Washington mask rules changes announced; elimination of outdoor masking rule

Washington’s outdoor mask mandate is ending, although an end date for the indoor mask mandate has not been announced.

The current state policy requires masks to be worn at gatherings of 500 or more people. This mandate is set to end on February 18.

Inslee cited declining COVID hospitalizations within Washington as evidence that the state has passed the surge brought by the omicron variant.

“Today is not the day to lift all of the masking requirements,” said Inslee. “We are obviously having conversations and an intensive review of what day it will be.”

At his Wednesday press briefing, Gov. Jay Inslee did say that he expects to be able to share a prospective date on when indoor masking will end at a briefing next week.

This week, multiple states announced their plans to lift their mask requirements either in public or within schools. Much of these dates have been set for a month or two from now. The White House has also signaled it is beginning to prepare for a less-restrictive phase of the national COVID response.

Washington is one of just a handful of states that still have an indoor mask mandate. 

A group of more than a dozen House Republicans has sent a letter to the governor, authored by 19th District Representative Jim Walsh, demanding an end to COVID-related proclamations and orders that restrict Washingtonians’ actions and movements.

In that letter, lawmakers urged the governor to follow the lead of other states that have ended their COVID-related proclamations on wearing masks indoors and requiring COVID tests or proof of COVID shot status for access to places or jobs.

Walsh states, “We’ve passed an inflection point in the COVID crisis. We’re on the downside of the epidemiologic curve, first defined by Farr’s Law.”

“It’s time to walk back the state policies and actions that have interrupted Washingtonians’ lives for the last several years. My colleagues and I have asked Governor Inslee to take important steps in that process – including removing the state’s current indoor mask policy. And to do so immediately. It’s essential that he does.”


Also at his briefing, Inslee said that elective surgeries will be able to resume on February 18 at hospitals around the state.