Masks and Face Coverings FAQ

As of April 19, the CDC order requiring masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs is no longer in effect. However, masks remain an important tool for reducing the transmission of COVID-19, especially with the emergence of more contagious variants. The Department of Health recommends people age five and over wear masks in crowded indoor settings and confined spaces. This page will be updated soon. Thank you for your patience.

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 health care, long-term care, and correctional facilities.

Per federal requirements, masks continue to be required on public transportation.

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.

Do I need to wear a mask when using public transportation?
Per federal requirements, masks must be worn on public transportation such as airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. You are also required to wear a mask while in transportation hubs, such as airports, bus stations, and so forth.
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 no longer a requirement in K-12 schools or child care facilities, with a few exceptions:

  • Staff and students with COVID-19 should isolate for at least five days and wear a well-fitting mask or receive a negative test if they return to school or day care between days 6 - 10.
  • 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.

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.