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Boeing's Washington employees must wear masks, despite mandate being dropped elsewhere

Boeing is lifting its mask mandate for fully vaccinated employees, but not in Washington yet, as the state's requirements for employers is still unclear.

RENTON, Wash. — The Boeing Company told its employees who work outdoors they can ditch their masks and skip social distancing starting Monday, if they are fully vaccinated and disclose their vaccination status to the company. 

But Boeing said that option won't be available for its workers in Washington state, at least not yet.

Washington state's guidance for employers requiring masks is still unclear following last week's bombshell from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully-vaccinated people can ditch their masks in most situations. 

"My advice is to wait a couple of days, as we’re going to provide some additional guidance," said Dr. Umair Shah, secretary of health for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). "Again, working with L&I [Labor & Industries] and the governor’s office, so stay tuned."

Boeing, of course, is just one employer, and the type of jobs people are in appears likely to affect how their employers will handle their vaccination status. 

For public-facing jobs, like a restaurant host or a bank teller, there may be one requirement, while there may be others for people in manufacturing or in-office jobs where they only interact with a limited number of people. 

"I think the right prediction for where the government pronouncements are going to be is that employers can ask for proof of a vaccination," said Seattle-based employment lawyer Aaron Rocke. He added that vaccinated employees may not be a requirement for a role in certain businesses. 

"Employers are in a tough spot, and they need to work through their values on whether it’s really a business necessity, on whether they’re employees are vaccinated or not," Rocke said. 

Shah told KING 5 the DOH plans to maintain the mask guidance put out by the CDC last week, but it will support local health jurisdictions that want to implement their own mask rules. 

Public health officials in King County are currently debating on whether to implement a countywide mask mandate, despite the CDC and state easing restrictions.