‘Keep it up, Washington’: Inslee urges vaccines ahead of state’s reopening

Jay Inslee
Ted S. Warren

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks before signing a bill into law in Tukwila, Wash., Tuesday, May 4, 2021, that levies a new capital gains tax on high profit stocks, bonds and other assets for some residents of Washington state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Ahead of the June 30 reopening date, Gov. Jay Inslee made a statement on Tuesday about the progress the state has made in the effort against the pandemic, while urging people to continue getting vaccinated.

Inslee said the state has come a long way since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed back in January 2020, adding that is in “no small part due to Washingtonians’ dedication and resilience in protecting themselves and their communities through the pandemic.”

“Because folks listened to science and stayed home to stay healthy, wore masks and got vaccinated, we can now safely fully re-open our state’s economy and cultural centers after 15 long months,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud of how Washingtonians came together, persevered and sacrificed to fight this virus, and now we’re finally in a place that is safe enough to end this chapter.”

Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, all industry sectors previously covered by the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery or the Safe Start Reopening Plan can return to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large outdoor events or ones with more than 10,000 people.

Vaccine verification or negative testing will be recommended, but not required for large indoor or outdoor events; restaurants, bars, theaters, stores, businesses and others will have no restrictions on capacity; and there will be no requirements for social distancing.

As for masks, they will not be required for vaccinated people, unless required by individual businesses. Some exceptions will include schools and childcare centers that will have some facial coverings and physical distancing requirements.

Even though Wednesday marks a new stage in the effort against the pandemic, Inslee said there is still work to do and continued success depends on people getting vaccinated and encouraging others to get it too.

“Let’s keep it up, Washington – get vaccinated and stay safe,” he said.

Secretary of Health Umair Shah, MD, MPH, thanked Washingtonians for their dedication to personal and community safety, but emphasized that the work to defeat COVID is not done.

“Washington was one of the first in the country to begin the fight against COVID-19. Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of everyone in the state we have one of the most effective responses in the nation. I am so grateful for our partners in public health, health care, government, businesses and communities across the state, as well as the public,” Shah said.

While this step forward is exciting, Shah said it does not mean the virus is gone or the state’s work against it is over.

“Vaccination, testing and precautions like wearing masks if you are unvaccinated will be needed more than ever as businesses try to resume normal operations. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, do it now in order to safely enjoy reopening and protect your loved ones and people around you,” Shah said.

Commerce Director Lisa Brown praised the resilience of Washington’s business community and emphasized the tie between economic recovery and continued increase of vaccination rates.

“We know our businesses are deeply dedicated to reopening safely and ensuring the health of their employees and customers. And Commerce remains committed to a strong economic recovery across all our communities – particularly those that were hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic,” Brown said. “But our economic recovery remains tied to our success fighting COVID-19. We hope this milestone inspires anyone who can get their vaccine but hasn’t done so yet to take that important step and help us become more resilient now and into the future.”

On Wednesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 1, Inslee will participate in three community-led celebrations to acknowledge and celebrate the end to current COVID restrictions. He will travel to Tacoma, Spokane and Seattle to celebrate with community and business leaders, elected officials and those who helped the state through the pandemic.

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