Pacific Northwest States Lift Mask Mandates: ‘We’re Turning a Page’

by Samantha Whidden

As more states announce plans to end their COVID-19 mask mandates, the Pacific Northwest states are now saying they are lifting their own mask mandates and are ready to move on from the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, both Washington and Oregon are lifting their mask mandates on Saturday (March 11th). Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, declared in a recent news conference, “We’re turning a page in our fight against the COVID virus.”

What You Should Know

  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently stated that the Pacific Northwest state is ready to turn the page in its fight against the COVID-19 virus. This means lifting the mask mandates. 
  • Both Pacific Northwest states Oregon and Washington lifted mask requirements on Saturday (March 12th). They are also the last few states to have mask mandates still in effect.
  • However, although the Pacific Northwest states are lifting their mask mandates, other state and federal mask requirements still exist.  
  • Meanwhile Oregon is allowing individual businesses, employers, and other organizations have the option of requiring masks. 
  • Various performance arts venues in Oregon will also continue to require face masks. They also require proof of vaccinations even after the mask mandate ends. 

Oregon and Washington Lifts Mask Mandate However Some Mask Requirements Still Remain in Effect

In a recent statement, Oregon Governor, Kate Brown recalls the first COVID-19 cases in the Pacific Northwest state as she prepares to lift the statewide mask mandate. “Two years ago today, we identified Oregon’s first case of COVID-19. On the West Coast, our communities and economies are linked. Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resilience. And prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic.”

However, while the Pacific Northwest states are ditching their mask mandates, other state and federal mask requirements, including in healthcare settings and public transit, still remain in effect Some school districts and local governments also have the option o continue to require masks. Washington State’s latest school district, Seattle Public Schools, says it will lift its COVID-19 mask mandate on Monday (March 14th). 

The district shares with Associated Press, “We are pleased that COVID-19 cases continue to fall in SPS schools and King County. However, there may be times when we will need to bring back effective mitigations; If there is an increase in community, classroom, and school-wide transmission.”

Meanwhile, some Oregon school districts are still in decision-making mode when it comes to lifting their mask mandates. The Pacific Northwest state is also allowing individual businesses, employers, and other organizations to have the option of mask requirements. 

Although Oregon is lifting its mask mandate, the Pacific Northwest state is optimistic about the decision. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state epidemiologist, shared in a press conference on Friday (March 11th), “Last summer, we found ourselves in a similar position to radically change our approach to fighting COVID. Then we had to confront new variants. This time feels different. Because it is different. We have higher levels of immunity. We have additional treatment.”