If you plan to go out to a King County restaurant next week, you will need to prove that you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or that you have recently tested negative for the virus, to enter.
And it’s not just the restaurants. On Monday, October 25, anyone 12 years of age or older will need to show their vaccine or test status to perform a large number of activities in the county.
Companies and staff need to check immunization status in a variety of settings, including:
- Indoor restaurants and bars that can accommodate more than 12 people
- Indoor recreational venues such as gymnasiums, cinemas, bowling alleys, indoor soccer arenas, museums, nightclubs, performance venues and conventions
- Outdoor events with 500 or more people, such as professional or college sports games, and concerts
- Restaurants and bars that can seat 12 people or less have a little more time to adjust. The rules will go into effect for them on December 6. Customers can provide proof of vaccination in several forms, including:
- A vaccine card or a photo of the vaccine card
- A medical record
- Proof from another state or county
- Printed certificate or digital record from MyIRMobile
- Digital vaccine card applications, such as CLEAR
Those who are not vaccinated will need to provide a negative test taken within the last 72 hours. Rapid home tests will not be accepted.
RELATED: KUOW’s pandemic blog featuring updates for Seattle and the NW
Businesses are preparing for the new rules
The new rules will likely be received differently in different parts of King County. In Seattle, some bars and restaurants already require proof of vaccination to enter.
At the Octopus Bar in Wallingford, your ID isn’t the only thing you need to flash to enter.
For weeks now, the bar has been asking for proof of vaccination.
Bartender Lauren Leatherman said they tried to be as accommodating as possible and even helped customers locate a copy of their immunization records online so they could get in.
She said people were receptive to the policy and seemed delighted the bar was checking the status of vaccines.
âIt’s really good so far. There have been a few naysayers, but it has been few, âLeatherman said.
On a personal level, she said it was a relief to know that everyone who enters the bar is vaccinated because her mother is sick.
Leatherman urges people to remember that there are staff in situations like his if they are upset about being asked for proof of vaccination.
âWe have loved ones who are at risk, who are immunocompromised, and we do our best to keep people safe. I want to keep my mother safe, I love my mother. I just wish people could keep that in mind.
In Auburn, owner of Restaurant Trotter, Michael Braxton, is feeling nervous about the upcoming demands.
Braxton said by phone that his staff had had problems enforcing the mask’s warrant, with a few cases escalating so much that they called the police.
He fears the reactions will be even worse when people ask for proof of vaccination.
Braxton said it was frustrating and worried about losing business.
How did similar demands get elsewhere?
King County isn’t the first place to do something like this. Similar requirements are in place in Clallam and Jefferson counties, and several other cities.
In New York and San Francisco, the rollout of similar rules appears to have gone relatively well.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that 31,000 inspections were carried out in the city’s first month of vaccine verification rules and only 15 violations were reported.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health said in a statement it had received “huge support” from the business community and issued only one notice of violation.
This does not mean that there were no problems. There have been several stories of staff at various locations being harassed, and even attacked, by customers unhappy with the rules.
Do these rules work?
These rules are relatively new, and there aren’t many studies examining their direct impact on vaccination rates or virus transmission. But there are indications that the requirements may help move the needle for some people.
“If most of the activities you enjoy doing require vaccination, that may be enough to tempt people who are a little hesitant to get vaccinated,” said Brandon Guthrie, epidemiologist at the University of Washington.
Indeed, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 35% of those surveyed recently vaccinated said that wanting to participate in activities requiring vaccination was a major factor in their decision to get vaccinated.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo is an epidemiologist and biostatistician at the University of California, San Francisco. She said these types of rules would work best to increase immunization rates if paired with ongoing community outreach and trusted voice messages, and easy access to vaccines.
When it comes to transmission, public health experts say making sure everyone in a space is vaccinated or has a recent negative test makes it much less likely that anyone will be infected or transmit this infection.
Bibbins-Domingo said these rules work, but the infrastructure is needed for them to work well in the long term.
âIn order for these to work as efficiently as possible, I think we need better verification systems. We need better ways to make it easier to display your QR code to easily enter a restaurant so that the burden doesn’t really fall on businesses to do all of the different types of verification, âBibbins-Domingo said.
What is the execution plan?
Officials say the new rules will be applied similarly to hide warrants. King County Director Dow Constantine said the focus will be on education, as opposed to sanctions, but people can still report violations.
âIf there are any companies or customers who are blatantly and deliberately not complying, public health has options,â Constantine said. Fines and even the loss of a business license could occur, he said.
Bibbins-Domingo said law enforcement is an important part, but the rules will work best if accepted as a community standard, much like the standard that you don’t get in a car with someone. who is drunk, or smoke indoors in a restaurant.
âI hope this sets the standard that, as a community, vaccination is really the most important thing, or negative tests, to keep our community safe,â she said.