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BREAKING: Governor Inslee announces all counties back to Phase 3 May 18, full opening on June 30

Vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, with a handful of exceptions

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[OLYMPIA] – (MTN) Governor Jay Inslee has announced that the state will move all counties to Phase 3 on Tuesday, May 18, and will fully reopen on June 30, in a press conference today, essentially scraping the Safe Washington reopening plan implemented in March. The state mask mandate has also been lifted effective immediately for all vaccinated individuals both indoors and out, with the exception of hospitals, jails and prisons, public transportation, homeless shelters, and other areas where people congregate in tight quarters.

Gov. Inslee indicated that the state would get to a full reopening faster if more than 70% of residents over 16-years-old get at least their first COVID vaccine dose before June 30. The governor explained that the 70% requirement did not include 12 to 15-year-olds because the state opened up vaccination to the younger age group only yesterday.

The June 30 date has one exception. If statewide ICU utilization exceeds 90% and hospitals start canceling elective surgery due to the volume of COVID patients, the full reopening would be delayed, or if after June 30, the state could implement a pause in the plan. Currently, statewide ICU utilization is at 82%, while Pierce County was at 88.6% yesterday. One hospital in Bellingham was pausing elective surgery due to COVID and the unprecedented birth of 18 babies in 36 hours. Resources have been stretched thin at the facility, with officials saying last weekend was the busiest in its history.

The governor indicated that businesses could require proof of vaccination to gain entry, but that it is up to individual business owners. In a question asked to Gov. Inslee about creating an official vaccination passport, he stated that officials have no plans to implement an official document.

Lacy Fehrenbach said people can get a copy of their vaccine records by visiting MyIR and registering on the website. She added that the website requires registration and authentication, so it can’t be used as a tool to provide immediate access. Fehrenbach also suggested that have a photo of the card would be acceptable. Although not expressly stated, front and back would be ideal. Several attempts to visit the website after the press conference were thwarted due to traffic volume.

The governor also stated that local county health officials could move to a lower phase if they determine they need to keep stricter requirements starting on May 18. Pierce County continues to have some of the worst statistics in the state, and a low vaccination rate. Under the now-defunct Healthy Washington plan, Pierce County would be in Phase 1.

For those thinking about creating a fake vaccination card, the FBI issued a statement last week that doing so is a felony because the vaccination card has an official government seal on it. The penalty is a fine of up to $5000 for each violation and up to 5 years in prison.

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