King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced new coronavirus restrictions to allegedly help prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus during a Thursday press conference at the guidance of King County Public Health Dr. Jeff Duchin.
The new restrictions require all individuals in King County, Wash., ages 12 and up, to provide either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter both indoor and outdoor settings. This includes bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and other entertainment venues. However, the health order does not require employees at establishments covered under the new policy to get the vaccine.
The mandate goes into effect October 25 which gives time for individuals in the county to get fully-vaccinated.
"We've reached a critical moment in the long fight against the pandemic. One that will determine how quickly and how safely we will emerge," Constantine said during the press conference.
"Hospitals in King County and all across our state are at their highest occupancy rates admitting more COVID-19 patients now than at any point since the pandemic began more than a year and a half ago."
Constantine defended the vaccination requirement and said that because there is a high population of individuals in King County that have received the coronavirus vaccination, the requirements are possible.
"Because 85 percent of King County residents have received at least their first vaccine dose, among the highest of any major metropolitan region in the country, we're able to apply a verification policy that will keep people safe and keep businesses open," Constantine said.
"This health order will apply to these main categories: outdoor recreational and entertainment events with 500 or more people, indoor recreational and entertainment establishments regardless of size including performing arts centers, movie theaters, gyms, convention centers, restaurants, and bars," he said.
The King County Executive said that the decision to require the coronavirus vaccine is a plan "based on science" that was developed by a wide range of experts, stake holders, and community leaders.
During the press conference, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan praised the vaccination requirement and said the new restrictions will keep Seattle and King County "safe" and that Seattle is the safest city in the country to be.
However, the mayor continues to fail citizens through failure to address Seattle's blatant public safety crisis as a result of the "defund the police" movement which resulted in skyrocketing crime rates and led to more than 300 Seattle police officers separating from the department. On Wednesday, Seattle City Council voted against refunding the police budget to help retain and hire officers.
King County Public Health Dr. Jeff Duchin stated that the public health order will be assessed after six months from the requirement going into effect on October 25. From there, officials will make the decision to extend or forgo the policy.