Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State said Thursday that he will eliminate the state’s mask mandates, including for schools, next month as Covid hospitalizations and case numbers continue to drop.
The governor plans to end statewide requirements for a mask mandate on March 21 although Mr. Inslee said businesses, local governments and school districts can still have their own requirements. Masks will still be required in health care settings, public transit and correctional facilities.
Mr. Inslee’s announcement follows similar moves to drop mask mandates in states like California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon.
Mr. Inslee said that hospitalizations remain elevated and the state needs to remain cautious. But he said the state projects hospitalizations to continue dropping substantially over the coming weeks.
“We should be very pleased with the progress that we have made,” Mr. Inslee said.
The governor had already announced last week that the state’s outdoor mask mandate would end Friday.
Washington State’s plan comes about two years after Mr. Inslee led efforts to implement pandemic restrictions during the region’s early outbreak of the virus.
The state has largely maintained a cautious approach, although a withdrawal of mask requirements last year preceded a spike in cases when the Delta variant of the virus surged across the country, leading Washington and other places to restore restrictions.
Cases and hospitalizations jumped again in December with the arrival of the Omicron variant, but case numbers have dropped dramatically in recent weeks. Covid hospitalizations are down about 30 percent from their peak in Washington State.
Mr. Inslee also said that he is ending requirements for vaccine verification at large events, starting on March 1.
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