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King County to require COVID vaccine or negative test for events, restaurants, bars

Staff at the Modern Museum of Art check visitors' proof of vaccination in New York on Sept. 13, 2021.
Seth Wenig
The Associated Press
Staff at the Modern Museum of Art check visitors' proof of vaccination in New York on Sept. 13, 2021.

Seattle and King County officials said Thursday that proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required to enter certain establishments and attend outdoor events.

Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin issued the order, which will go into effect Oct. 25.

The order will require vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend outdoor events with 500 or more people such as sporting events and to visit indoor establishments such as museums, theaters, live music events, gyms, sporting events and conferences/conventions.

The order also applies inside restaurants and bars. It doesn’t affect outdoor dining, take-out orders and shopping in places including grocery stores.

Duchin said the move will protect customers and workers through providing safer spaces, protecting the health care system, and helping prevent business closures.

High levels of preventable COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and increased deaths driven by the highly contagious delta variant prompted the order.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and others in the community support the order, according to the news release.

“We must act now – and act boldly – to change the trajectory of the virus and keep our communities safe,” Durkan said. "After extensive engagement with community partners, small businesses, venues, and hospitals, Seattle is proud to implement a vaccination verification policy.”

The requirements are similar to those recently enacted in New York, San Francisco and New Orleans, as well as in Washington state's Clallam and Jefferson counties.

More than 150 restaurants and bars in King County have already implemented some form of vaccine requirement to enter, The Seattle Times reported.

And King County members of the Washington Nightlife Music Association, a coalition of independently owned music venues, last month called on government officials to implement a vaccination-check mandate and the development of a statewide vaccine verification system.

Customers can use their vaccine cards or a photo of a vaccine card, documentation from a medical record or vaccine provider, or a printed certificate from to enter establishments already requiring vaccine proof.

Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, said in a statement Thursday that the announcement creates different standards for different types of eating places — and no additional standards for most businesses.

“The data shows without a doubt that COVID spreads everywhere, and any policy to reduce the spread must similarly apply everywhere," Anton said. ”Anything less than that amounts to using our industry — which has been the hardest hit by far — as a carrot-and-stick for the small percentage of people in King County who have been unwilling to be vaccinated."

He said the association would continue working to be part of a solution based on science and urged people to be kind to hospitality workers as they work to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Duchin’s order is not meant to be permanent and will be reviewed within six months after the implementation date, officials said.

Updated: September 16, 2021 at 6:11 PM PDT
UPDATES via AP: with 150 bars/restaurants already requiring proof/test and music venues calling for mandates and how to show proof

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