Masks and Face Coverings FAQ

Are masks still required in some indoor settings?

This order from the Secretary of Health spells out when and where Washingtonians need to wear a face mask. People are individually responsible to comply with this order.

In general, masks are still required for people over age five, regardless of vaccination status, in some public indoor settings including the following:

  • Health care
  • Long-term care
  • Correctional facilities when the COVID-19 community level is medium or high

Local health jurisdictions, some school districts, and individual businesses may choose to require masks for their employees, customers, or residents. If you are in an establishment or place where COVID-19 safety measures are in place, please follow them. The goal of these safety measures is to protect staff, employees, students, yourself, and others.

What is a health care setting?

Per the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order, health care settings and long-term care settings are any public or private setting that is primarily used for the delivery of in-person health care services, with some exceptions. The following is a non-exclusive list of health care settings and long-term care settings:

  • Acute care facilities, including but not limited to hospitals;
  • Long-term acute care facilities;
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities;
  • Inpatient behavioral health facilities, including, but not limited to, evaluation and treatment facilities, residential treatment facilities, secure detox facilities;
  • Residential long-term care facilities, including, but not limited to, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family homes, settings where certified community residential services and supports are provided, and enhanced services facilities;
  • Mobile clinics or other vehicles where health care is delivered;
  • Outpatient facilities, including, but not limited to, dialysis centers, physician offices, and behavioral health facilities (including offices of psychiatrists, mental health counselors, and substance use disorder professionals);
  • Dental and dental specialty facilities;
  • Optometry and ophthalmology facilities;
  • Pharmacies (not including the retail areas);
  • Massage therapy offices (this includes designated areas where massage is administered within non-health care settings like spas and wellness/fitness centers);
  • Chiropractic offices;
  • Midwifery practices and stand-alone birth centers;
  • Isolation and/or quarantine facilities;
  • Ambulatory surgical facilities;
  • Urgent care centers;
  • Hospice care centers; and
  • Settings where home health care, emergency medical care, or any other health care, home care, personal care, or hospice care services are delivered by paid providers.
Do I need to wear a mask when using public transportation?
As of April 18, 2022, as a result of a court order, the CDC Order requiring masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. However, we recommend that people wear masks when using public transportation in order to keep travel and public transportation safer for everyone.
Are masks required on school buses?
Masks are no longer required on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including child care programs. School systems at their discretion may choose to require that people wear masks on buses or vans.
Are masks required in health care settings?
Masks or respirators continue to be required in health care settings such as hospitals, outpatient, long-term care, and dental offices. If a health care setting or long-term care setting is in a private residence, people who are not paid to provide health care, long-term care, or personal care services are exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering in that setting. Additional information can be found in Resources and Recommendations under Masks.
What face mask rules do I follow at my job?
COVID-19 remains a recognized workplace hazard. Updated state workplace health and safety guidance for workers on masks is available from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.
Can businesses still require customers wear a mask?
Businesses may require customers wear a mask when frequenting their place of business. If you are in an establishment that has this safety measure in place, please comply with their request. The goal is to protect their staff, yourself, and others.
Are there times when I should wear a mask?
You may choose to wear a mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should also wear a mask to protect others.
What if I am immunocompromised or at risk?
People who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster and additional doses, are at far less risk of severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19. However, you may want to take added precautions, especially if COVID-19 is prevalent in your community. CDC COVID-19 Community Levels (under individual and household level prevention strategies) can help you make informed decisions about prevention strategies based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in your area. You may also want to speak to your health care provider when making this decision.
What are the requirements for face coverings at K-12 schools or child care facilities?

Masks are required in nurse/health rooms at a school or child care, as these are considered health care settings.

Schools, districts, child care facilities, and local public health jurisdictions may implement more protective requirements at any time or in response to an outbreak or local surge of disease. These measures may include universal indoor masking, testing, and/or any other measure deemed appropriate to limit spread of the virus.

The full state guidance on COVID-19 for schools, child care, day camps, and other youth activities is available.

Can businesses and schools require masks for staff as part of an accommodation to an applicable vaccination requirement?

The lifting of the state-level mask requirement does not preclude a business or school from requiring employees to wear masks, whether as part of an accommodation or otherwise.

The Department of Health does not issue recommendations regarding accommodations for workers with medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement. Each employer must make that determination based on existing guidance and protections for that worker and their coworkers and the customer/students in consideration of the work/school environment and job tasks as well as the resources necessary to provide the accommodation.

The Human Resources department should be responsible for reviewing, approving, and communicating approval of medical and religious accommodation requests. The department should follow a standard process for every request and should examine each request on its own by analyzing the specific facts surrounding the request.