SEATTLE — Beginning Monday, anyone 12 years or older looking to dine indoors and attend indoor events or larger outdoor events in King County will have to verify that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 first.
The requirement, which many bars and entertainment venues have already adopted, was put in place by King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.
It requires establishments to check every patron for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours or a negative rapid test result from a testing provider on-site of an event or venue just before entry.
"The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, and causes severe illness," said Duchin in a statement. "King County's vaccine verification program will help prevent infections, hospitalizations and deaths, safeguard our healthcare system, and provide safer spaces for the public and for workers."
All indoor recreational events, movie theaters, performing arts, gyms and conventions will be required to verify proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. The same goes for outdoor events with 500 people or more and businesses primarily used for indoor dining.
Many bars and restaurants plan to check verification the same way they check identification for alcohol purchases.
The health order gives the option for smaller establishments with a seating capacity of 12 people or fewer to implement the new requirement by Dec. 6 in order to allow longer preparation.
Several forms of vaccine proof will be valid including a physical copy or photo of a COVID-19 vaccination card, a printed certificate or QR code from the MyIRMobile website or another official immunization from within or outside the U.S. that includes the health care provider.
The Seattle Chamber of Commerce created a toolkit for businesses on how to comply with the new requirement.
The requirement will be reassessed in six months to ensure its continued need.
Enforcement of the order, as has been the case with previous orders involving masking and social distancing, will focus on education and outreach.
If an establishment receives complaints or businesses are continuously not following the order, King County officials will contact businesses and take action.
The county is also working on a process for submitting complaints, defining egregious non-compliance and building a compliance plan into event permit applications.
University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that the order could prevent between roughly 18,000 and 80,000 new infections as well as between 63 and 257 deaths from COVID-19.
The order comes after Jefferson and Clallam counties passed down vaccination requirements for indoor dining in early September.
As of Friday, more than 71% of King County’s total population has completed their vaccination series, according to the health department's data.