Democratic Washington State Governor Jay Inslee on Monday released his immediate plan to partially roll back COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings and sporting events. The plan’s primary focus, however, is on utilizing vaccine passports.
According to Inslee’s office, Washington spectator facilities and religious organizations may increase their attendance capacity by screening for COVID-19 vaccination status and adding areas for vaccinated people. This vaccine verification process can be done in several ways:
Under the updated guidance the following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination: Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR a photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider electronic health record or state Immunization Information System record. Self-reported vaccination records that are not verified by a health care provider cannot be accepted.
Under Inslee’s new “Roadmap to Recovery” guidelines, religious gatherings and spectator events are able to increase their capacity, but only for “vaccinated sections.”
In Phase 2 of the plan, religious gatherings can increase their overall facility capacity to 50% if “vaccinated-only sections” are implemented.
Outdoor spectator events are allowed to expand their seating with “vaccinated sections” until they reach 50% capacity or 22,000 people, whichever is lower. The number of people in an unvaccinated section cannot exceed 9,000 people. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are included in the total capacity count.
Indoor spectator events are given the green light to expand their total capacity to 50% capacity or 2,000 people, whichever is lower. That number includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated sections.
If a county is still in Phase 2, the indoor requirements differ. The number of unvaccinated people cannot exceed 200 people. That number jumps to 300 people if a room is greater than 100,000 square feet. In Phase 3, the number of unvaccinated people cannot exceed 400 people. That number, however, climbs to 600 if the facility’s room is greater than 100,000 square feet.
Each county’s reopening is based on the number of new COVID cases and hospitalization rates in the last week:
As of now, the entire state is in Phase 3, with the exception of Cowlitz, Pierce, Ferry, and Whitman Counties. Those four counties are in Phase 2 of reopening. On Monday, Inslee halted phase movements until May 18.
“Today I announced a two-week pause on phase movement in the Healthy Washington reopening plan,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “All counties will remain in their current phase until we re-evaluate.”
“Current data suggests that Washington’s fourth wave of COVID-19 is leveling out,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening — as long as we adhere to public health guidance until enough people are vaccinated.”
Current data suggests that Washington's fourth wave of COVID-19 is leveling out.
Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening — as long as we adhere to public health guidance until enough people are vaccinated.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) May 4, 2021
Other states, including neighboring Idaho, have banned vaccine passports from being utilized before residents can obtain specific goods or services. Other states to outlaw vaccine passports include Florida, Texas, and Utah.