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King County ending vaccine requirements at bars, restaurants

February 16, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington’s most populous county will no longer require COVID vaccination checks to enter restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms beginning March 1.

King County officials made the announcement Wednesday. The Seattle Times reports from March 1, businesses will be free to impose their own vaccination requirements if they choose, but there will be no countywide requirement.

Since last fall, indoor eateries and cultural and recreational spaces have been required to verify their customers’ vaccination status or a negative COVID test, as a condition for entry.

The policy has also applied to outdoor events with more than 500 people, like concerts and sporting events.

“Our public health experts believe that now is the appropriate time to lift vaccine verification, based on high rates of vaccine coverage and the decrease in new cases and hospitalizations across the county,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said Wednesday.

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Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell also announced that they will begin, gradually, calling back to the office the thousands of county and city employees who have been working remotely for nearly two years. King County has an estimated 7,000 employees who have been working remotely, and Seattle has about 5,000.