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FAQ for Businesses

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Frequently Asked Questions
updated 9/30/2021

General Information About the Policy

What will be required for customers and patrons at public indoor activities and large outdoor events?


People age 12 and older will be required to show proof of vaccine or negative COVID test to enter certain large sporting/entertainment events and gyms, and to take part in indoor dining at establishments such as restaurants and bars. This health order does not require people to also show proof of ID.




Why is this policy necessary?


COVID-19 is currently spreading at high rates in King County, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. Our healthcare system is more strained than at any time during the pandemic, and we are trying to preserve the ability of our hospitals to serve everyone who needs care.

Requiring people to verify their vaccination status in places where there is higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 may help contain the spread since vaccinated people are at much lower risk of catching and spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 is more likely to spread in crowded outdoor spaces and indoor settings where people are unmasked or participating in high-risk activities like yelling, singing, or aerobic activity.

This policy aims to prevent cases and hospitalizations from rising any further and therefore prevent further state restrictions, such as business capacity limits or a return to remote schooling.




When will this policy be in place and how long will it last?


This Local Health Officer Order is effective starting October 25, 2021. Small restaurants and bars, defined as those with seating capacity for less than 12 people, have until December 6, 2021 to implement the requirements.

The entire order is not expected to be permanent. No later than six months from October 25, 2021, this policy will be reviewed for possible extension based on future outbreak conditions.




How will this policy be enforced?


As with other Public Health orders, King County will focus on education and outreach to support people in following the health order. If there are complaints of patrons or businesses egregiously not following the order, County officials will contact businesses and event organizers and take action as feasible. 

King County is working to develop a process for submitting complaints, defining egregious non-compliance, and building a compliance plan into event permit applications.




Can we stop wearing masks in places that require vaccine verification?


No, the mask indoor mask mandate will still be in effect. Verification requirement is an additional layer of protection on top of masks, distancing, and ventilation.




What should employers do if patrons refuse to comply?


King County will be doing outreach and working with restaurants on how best to be in compliance – for example, it may be easier for some restaurants to check verification at that door and in other cases might be easier to check at the table where they are being served.




Is the county locked into the 6 month timeframe? If cases recede after 3 months, will we still have to be maintain these verification requirements?


No. If Public Health determined the order was no longer necessary to maintain public health and safety, the order will be reassessed.





About Proof of Vaccination

What can you use to as proof of vaccination?


  • CDC COVID-19 vaccine record card or photo of vaccine card
  • Printed certificate or QR code (available at the end of September) from MyIRMobile.com
  • Other official immunization record from within or outside the U.S., including from your health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
NOTE: Documentation of medical or religious exemptions not accepted




What can people do if they have questions or concerns about their vaccination record on MyIRMobile.com?


MyIR (My Immunization Record) is an internet-based service that gives people access to their official Washington state vaccination records. It is managed by the Washington State Department of Health. To set up an account, go to www.MyIRMobile.com. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 1-833-829-4357 or email WAISSRecords@doh.wa.gov.




Do children need to show proof of vaccination?


No, the requirements do not apply to children under 12 years old.




What type of negative COVID test is acceptable as an alternative to proof of vaccination?


You can show digital or printed documentation of results from one of the following administered within the previous 3 days:

  • a negative FDA-approved molecular test (also called a PCR test), or
  • a negative FDA-approved antigen test (also called a rapid test)
Documentation must be from a testing agent such as a laboratory, health care provider, or pharmacy. Self-administered rapid tests (also called a home test) will not be accepted.




Will religious or medical exemptions be accepted in lieu of proof of vaccination?


No, businesses should not have to make a distinction between religious or medical exemptions. Rather, a negative test can be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination.

No, religious or medical exemptions are not allowed. Rather, a negative test can be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination.




What about fake vaccination cards?


Showing a fake vaccination card is a Federal crime. We expect that the vast majority of people will follow the requirements.




Why aren’t you requiring people to show ID at the same time as proof of vaccination?


In our stakeholder engagement, we received feedback that ID checks are associated with trauma stemming from racist and discriminatory practices, plus can lead to distrust for many communities. The vast majority of people have followed health requirements in our region during the pandemic.




What digital vaccine card apps can individuals and businesses use to verify vaccine status?


Washington State Department of Health recommends MyIR Mobile. Businesses and individuals can also choose to use additional vaccine card apps such as CLEAR and COVID Proof to provide vaccination verification. Please be advised that any third-party mobile application may collect personal information and data. Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to seek guidance from the Washington State Department of Health on the use of digital vaccine card apps for verification.




Since youth aren’t eligible for vaccination until they are 12, is there a grace period before a 12-year-old needs to show proof of vaccination?


Yes. Twelve-year-olds may participate if an adult can state that the child is in the process of getting vaccinated. Twelve-year-olds are required to be vaccinated, but we recognize that it takes additional weeks after they turn 12 to complete all shots and be fully vaccinated.




Are there accommodations for people with disabilities?


Yes. Please keep in mind that some people with disabilities may not have access to their vaccine information or the ability to use vaccine verification apps. If a person declares or is perceived to have a disability and cannot provide proof of vaccine, verbal communication of their vaccination status should be accepted instead of physical proof of vaccination. For people with disabilities who are unvaccinated, a verbal declaration that they have received a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours should be accepted.





What the Policy Covers

Will this include private events (such as weddings or parties) or faith-based events?


If a wedding or party is held at a business that is otherwise subject to this rule, such as a restaurant or music venue, vaccine verification will be required. Weddings or events held in settings that are not otherwise subject to this policy – such as private homes, or faith-based institutions – are strongly encouraged but not required to verify vaccinations. Faith-based settings and large funerals are strongly encouraged but not required to verify vaccinations.




Will this apply to employees as well as patrons?


Workers are covered under Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries regulations related to Covid safety. The King County policy strongly recommends, but does not require, a vaccine mandate for all workers or volunteers at establishments covered under the policy. Employers can mandate vaccinations. In addition, the Federal government has announced they are issuing a mandate that in part includes employers with more than 100 employees must either put in place an employee vaccination mandate or conduct weekly COVID-19 testing of employees. Guidance and resources are available from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, Washington State Coronavirus Response, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and available here:




Does the policy apply to outdoor dining, take-out, or food courts?


No. Outdoor dining and take-out customers do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. The policy also does not apply in settings that are not primarily used as indoor dining locations, such as grocery stores. The policy applies to restaurants, bars and coffee shops with dedicated seating. It does not apply to food courts or airports.




Does it apply if I have to dash in to a restaurant to pick up an order or use the restroom?


No.




Are fast food restaurants included?


Fast food restaurants are included IF they offer indoor seating and patrons are choosing to dine inside the restaurant.




Are middle school and high school sporting events included in this order?


No, school guidance is covered by the Washington State Department of Health and the Covid guidelines provided to schools by DOH. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/820-201-SportsFitnessGuidance.pdf




Are employer cafeterias or school cafeterias covered under this order?


No.




What type of fitness spaces are included?


In addition to gyms, indoor fitness spaces where groups of people are engaging together in indoor exercise are included. Examples of spaces covered under the order are gyms, dance studios, studios or spaces offering activities like yoga and martial arts. This is not an exhaustive list




What are examples of an entertainment space?


Examples of entertainment spaces include indoor movie theaters, stage productions, music venues, and escape rooms. This is not an exhaustive list.




What is defined as a recreational space?


Recreational space includes indoor activities such as bowling alleys, laser tag, indoor soccer spaces, and recreational game centers. This is not an exhaustive list.




Are retail shops covered under this order?


No. In most instances, retail shops have more opportunities for distancing and keeping masks on, and they often have multiple entry points which make vaccination verification less feasible.




Are outdoor street fairs, night markets and farmers markets covered under this order?


No, there is no requirement for vaccination or testing for these outdoor events.




Are grocery and big box retail stores covered under this order?


No, grocery stores, and other big box retail offering groceries, are not required to obtain vaccine verification in this order




Why are faith-based institutions excluded from the order?


Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that for people of faith, the attendance at events in their place of worship is a necessity and doesn’t fall into the entertainment, recreation, or dining categories. We strongly recommend that faith institutions require vaccination verification




Will this order apply to people under 12 years of age once they are eligible for vaccine?


It may be several months before vaccines are approved for younger children and they have sufficient opportunity for vaccination. Depending on the circumstances, the order could be amended at a later date to include additional groups.




Event permits and pulling food licenses only applies to a few of the businesses impacted. What happens to gyms and museums when they are out of compliance?


Compliance will work in much the same way. King County will educate businesses and if they are willfully out of compliance, we will take the necessary next steps.




Vaccines for younger kids are on the horizon – October is an early estimate. Will the verification policy change again before the sunset date to loop in younger children as the FDA emergency approvals come on board?


King County does not anticipate the order will change before the 6 month review date because it isn’t known when the vaccine for kids 5-12 will be approved and how long it will take to get that population vaccinated, but if it is deemed necessary/appropriate, it will be reviewed earlier.





Additional information for Businesses

What can you use to as proof of vaccination?


  • CDC COVID-19 vaccine record card or photo of vaccine card
  • Printed certificate or QR code (available at the end of September) from MyIRMobile.com
  • Other official immunization record from within or outside the U.S., including from your health care provider. A photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
NOTE: Documentation of medical or religious exemptions not accepted




What can people do if they have questions or concerns about their vaccination record on MyIRMobile.com?


MyIR (My Immunization Record) is an internet-based service that gives people access to their official Washington state vaccination records. It is managed by the Washington State Department of Health. To set up an account, go to www.MyIRMobile.com. For language assistance, or additional help getting your records, call the Washington State Vaccine Helpline at 1-833-829-4357 or email WAISSRecords@doh.wa.gov.




Do children need to show proof of vaccination?


No, the requirements do not apply to children under 12 years old.




What type of negative COVID test is acceptable as an alternative to proof of vaccination?


You can show digital or printed documentation of results from one of the following administered within the previous 3 days:

  • a negative FDA-approved molecular test (also called a PCR test), or
  • a negative FDA-approved antigen test (also called a rapid test)
Documentation must be from a testing agent such as a laboratory, health care provider, or pharmacy. Self-administered rapid tests (also called a home test) will not be accepted.




Will religious or medical exemptions be accepted in lieu of proof of vaccination?


No, businesses should not have to make a distinction between religious or medical exemptions. Rather, a negative test can be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination.

No, religious or medical exemptions are not allowed. Rather, a negative test can be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination.




What about fake vaccination cards?


Showing a fake vaccination card is a Federal crime. We expect that the vast majority of people will follow the requirements.




Why aren’t you requiring people to show ID at the same time as proof of vaccination?


In our stakeholder engagement, we received feedback that ID checks are associated with trauma stemming from racist and discriminatory practices, plus can lead to distrust for many communities. The vast majority of people have followed health requirements in our region during the pandemic.




What digital vaccine card apps can individuals and businesses use to verify vaccine status?


Washington State Department of Health recommends MyIR Mobile. Businesses and individuals can also choose to use additional vaccine card apps such as CLEAR and COVID Proof to provide vaccination verification. Please be advised that any third-party mobile application may collect personal information and data. Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to seek guidance from the Washington State Department of Health on the use of digital vaccine card apps for verification.




Since youth aren’t eligible for vaccination until they are 12, is there a grace period before a 12-year-old needs to show proof of vaccination?


Yes. Twelve-year-olds may participate if an adult can state that the child is in the process of getting vaccinated. Twelve-year-olds are required to be vaccinated, but we recognize that it takes additional weeks after they turn 12 to complete all shots and be fully vaccinated.




Are there accommodations for people with disabilities?


Yes. Please keep in mind that some people with disabilities may not have access to their vaccine information or the ability to use vaccine verification apps. If a person declares or is perceived to have a disability and cannot provide proof of vaccine, verbal communication of their vaccination status should be accepted instead of physical proof of vaccination. For people with disabilities who are unvaccinated, a verbal declaration that they have received a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours should be accepted.