Inslee expands mask mandate to large outdoor events

<p><p>OLYMPIA — Masks are back for everyone at large outdoor gatherings.</p></p><p><p>Starting Monday, everyone in the state — regardless of vaccination status — will be required to wear a mask at outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday. The statewide mandate follows King and Pierce counties implementing similar ones last week. </p></p><p><p>The move dovetails with the sweeping announcement by President Joe Biden urging private businesses to require vaccination or testing as a condition of employment.</p></p><p><p>Since the delta variant brought a new surge of COVID-19 cases statewide, the state <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/aug/18/masks-required-indoors-again-in-most-places-as-loc/” target=”_blank”>reinstated a mask mandate indoors for everyone</a>, vaccinated or not. It applies to grocery stores, businesses, restaurants, gyms and public-facing offices.</p></p><p><p>COVID-19 cases began rising sharply in July as the delta variant spread through the state. Now, hospitalizations <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/sep/08/washington-covid-hospitalizations-continue-to-incr/” target=”_blank”>are reaching record levels</a>, with 1,743 COVID-19 patients in hospitals on Sept. 7.</p></p><p><p><em>This story will be updated.</em></p></p>