June 30th Reopening Date
On May 13, 2021 Governor Inslee announced the statewide reopening date of June 30, 2021 and that all counties in Washington would move to Phase 3 of his Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery plan effective May 18 until June 30. Reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 are vaccinated. However, this reopening date does not guarantee reopening if the state’s COVID data changes or if ICU capacity reaches a certain threshold.
Inslee also announced that Washington would be fully adopting the CDC masking guidance issued on May 13 (that fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear masks either indoors or outdoors in most instances). Since that announcement, Inslee has worked with the state Department of Health and Labor & Industries to update the state’s industry specific guidance.
New Masking Guidance Based on Vaccination Status
On May 21, 2021 Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25.13 incorporating the new CDC face mask guidance for fully vaccinated persons into his Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery plan. Under this proclamation, the state longer requires fully vaccinated persons to wear face masks indoors or outdoors except for in certain “CDC exempted locations” (health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, and public transportation).
Employers must require proof of vaccination or self-attestation from every employee before those employees are permitted to work at the worksite without wearing a mask. Employers may choose the form of proof they will require. However, employers may still require employees to wear masks while at the worksite regardless of vaccination status. Employers may require vaccination as a condition of employment, except as prohibited by state or federal law. Additionally, businesses may still implement mask requirements for their customers.
OPMA Updates Based on Vaccination Status
In January 2021 Proclamation 20-28.15 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402 were issued which extended Inslee’s previous OPMA prohibitions and restrictions for the duration of the state of emergency or until amended or rescinded. Thus, the OPMA provisions of Proclamation 20-28 et seq are still in full force and effect. Under these orders, if a government agency holds a public meeting, then the meeting must comply with all the provisions of Proclamation 20-28.14, which includes but is not limited to the following:
Agencies holding public meetings under Phase 3, at a minimum, must (a) provide the opportunity for the public to attend the proceedings through telephonic access and may also include other electronic means of remote access; and (b) provide the ability for all persons attending the meeting to hear each other at the same time.
This means under Phase 3, government agencies must still hold public meetings remotely, and an in-person component for public meetings remains optional.
If any agency elects to include an in-person component to their public meeting, then:
- • Meetings must comply with the Miscellaneous Venues guidance;
- • Any person wishing to attend an in-person public meeting component must be able to do so at a physical location or an overflow physical location which provides the ability for all persons attending to hear each other at the same time;
- • If at any time during the public meeting the in-person component fails to comply with any of the elements [of Proclamation 20-28.14], the public meeting (including the remote/virtual portion) must be recessed until compliance is restored or if it cannot be restored then continued or otherwise terminated;
- • The public agency shall accommodate to the extent practicable, participation by public and the press via listening and speaking over telecommunication devices (i.e. conference call function or other call-in options);
- • County and other local canvassing boards performing operations related to the 2020 general election are exempt from these requirements.
On May 20, 2021 Governor Inslee updated the Miscellaneous Venues guidance, the “business meetings” component of which applies to public meetings. In relevant part, the updated Miscellaneous Venues provides the following for counties in Phase 3:
- • In-person meetings are allowed. Occupancy in each room/area is limited to 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is fewer;
- • Total indoor capacity can exceed 50% IF there are fully vaccinated sections/areas in use;
- • Occupancy restrictions and physical distancing requirements are removed IF all attendees are vaccinated;
- • For sections/areas with unvaccinated attendees, six feet of physical distance must be maintained between individuals/groups/tables;
- • Six feet distance must be maintained between the fully vaccinated-only sections/areas and any other section/area of the venue;
- • Face coverings are not required for fully vaccinated individuals.
The Miscellaneous Venues guidance sets out specifics for how an agency requires proof of vaccination status and what documentation is acceptable as proof of vaccination. In addition, all the “General Requirements for all Phases” must continue to be met – the full list of requirements can be found here.
If you have questions regarding holding public meetings under Phase 3, or would like assistance formulating a policy for operating under the above proclamations, please contact Jon Sitkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Allison Beard at email@example.com or call our office at 360-671-1796.