OLYMPIA, Wash. – Sporting and other entertainment venues that add “vaccinated sections” to their seating arrangements can increase their capacity by thousands of people, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office confirmed Monday.
According to the updated guidance, outdoor venues can add vaccinated sections and increase their capacity to 50 percent or up to 22,000 people (whichever is lower), but the number of unvaccinated people who attend is still capped at 9,000. This means up to 13,000 more vaccinated fans will be able to attend at stadiums with the capacity to do so.
The guidelines allow vaccinated sections to be seated at full-capacity without 6 feet of distance between groups. Suites can also operate at 100 percent capacity if all guests show proof of vaccination.
Indoor facilities can add vaccinated sections until their total capacity is 50 percent or 2,000 people, whichever is lower.
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Without vaccinated sections, indoor spectator events in Phase 2 are capped at 200 people, or 300 for venues larger than 100,000 square feet. In Phase 3, indoor events without vaccination sections are capped at 400 people, or 600 for venues larger than 100,000 square feet.
The new vaccinated sections will only be allowed in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the state’s pandemic reopening plan if the following conditions are met, according to the governor’s website:
- Vaccinated sections only allowed in facilities with individual, designated, seating and controlled entrance and exits.
- Vaccinated sections must be reserved for people 16 and older who are fully vaccinated.
- A patron vaccinated against COVID-19 by a two-dose mRNA vaccine (such as Moderna and Pfizer), or a single dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson), are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after the final dose of vaccine (the second dose for a two-dose regimen, or the single dose for a single-dose regimen). Documentation of vaccination status must be available upon request at any time.
- Children between the ages of 2 and 15 who can provide proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of admission, are also allowed in the vaccinated section. Children under the age of 2 do not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to be admitted to the vaccinated section when accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
- No adults who are not yet fully vaccinated, including adults who are in the progress of being vaccinated, will be permitted in the vaccinated only section, even with a negative test.
- All ticket holders for a fully vaccinated-only section must enter the facility through a separate line from unvaccinated ticket-holders, where they will be required to show proof of vaccination (if 16 years of age or older) or of a negative COVID-19 test (if between 2 and 15 years of age).
- Any person with a ticket for a fully vaccinated-only section who is 16 years of age or older and cannot provide the required verification of full vaccination, or between 2 and 15 years of age and cannot provide the required proof of a negative test within 72 hours of admission, will not be permitted to enter the vaccinated section. Any individual who is symptomatic, even if fully vaccinated, will not be allowed to enter the vaccinated section.
- There must be at least 6 feet of distance between the Fully Vaccinated-only sections and any other section in the venue.
- Face coverings must be worn in the fully vaccinated-only sections, except while actively eating and/or drinking in the ticketed seat.
The governor’s office says the following are acceptable as proof of vaccination:
- Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered)
- A photo of a vaccination card as a separate document
- A photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device
- Documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider electronic health record or state Immunization Information System record. Self-reported vaccination records that are not verified by a health care provider cannot be accepted.
The following are acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result:
- Printed document (from the test provider or laboratory)
- An email or text message displayed on a phone or electronic device from the test provider or laboratory. The information provided should include name of person tested, type of test performed, and date of negative test result (for PCR test, date of negative result must be within prior 72 hours; for antigen test, date of negative result must be within prior 24 hours). Self-reported negative test results that are not from a test provider, a laboratory, or a health care provider cannot be accepted.
Religious and faith-based organizations also are allowed to add vaccinated sections to their seating arrangements. Doing so will increase their capacity as well. Click here for the updated guidance.
The news comes as some of the state’s largest counties – King and Snohomish – prepare for a potential rollback to Phase 2, which would force businesses and churches to reduce their indoor gathering capacity from 50% to 25%. Professional sporting events can still operate according to Phase 3 regulations, even if the county is rolled back to Phase 2.
The state will announce this week which counties need to be rolled back to Phase 2 – or even Phase 1 – of Inslee’s reopening plan after an evaluation of public health safety benchmark numbers, though the governor could update the metrics and not require more counties to increase restrictions.
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