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

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A new order from Public Health – Seattle & King County Health will soon require people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for large outdoor events, gyms, live music venues, bars, restaurants and more.

The order goes into effect Oct. 25. Vaccine verification can be shown with your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine record card, or a photo of your vaccine card.

“King County’s vaccine verification program will prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our healthcare system, and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Proof of vaccination or a negative test will be required for outdoor events with 500 people or more. It also applies to indoor entertainment and recreational events or venues, such as performing arts and live music venues, gyms and conferences.

Restaurants and bars, including those with indoor dining, will also be checking for your vaccination status or a negative test. Grocery stores are not included in the health order.

“Medical and religious vaccine exemptions are not accepted in place of vaccine verification or documentation of a negative COVID test,” according to the order.

Establishments are responsible for checking vaccination proof or negative test status.

The order does not apply to children ages 12 or younger, outdoor or indoor youth sporting event participants and their spectators, or funerals, among other exceptions. Outdoor dining or customers getting take-out dining are not required to show their vaccination proof or negative test.

The order allows smaller restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 12 or less a longer time to prepare for the change, with vaccine verification to begin Dec. 6.

“The entire order is not expected to be permanent,” according to the county health department. The order will be reviewed no later than six months after the October start date and its continuation will be based on future outbreak conditions, according to the county.

“We are at a critical point in this pandemic, with high levels of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and no certainty as to what will follow the Delta variant,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Vaccination is our best shield against this deadly virus. With over 85 percent of King County residents having received at least their first vaccine dose, vaccine verification will help keep people safe and keep businesses open.”

Acceptable proof of a negative COVID-19 test includes a negative PCR test from within the previous 72 hours or a negative rapid test conducted on site at the event.

For more information, the visit King County Public Health website.

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Olivia Sullivan

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Olivia Sullivan