Novel coronavirus information

February 22, 2022

Updates to UW policies on masks at outdoor events, vaccine verification at venues (Message to the UW community)

This message was sent to students, staff, faculty and academic personnel across the University of Washington.

Dear UW community,

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee and local health agencies announced updates to state and county COVID-19 prevention policies. These welcome changes are in response to declining infections and hospitalizations in our region. These improvements have been matched at the UW, where the Omicron surge peaked in early January and daily case counts — as well as the related disruptions to learning, teaching and working — have fallen.

All of this points to a successful end to the winter quarter and to a largely in-person spring quarter, and additional communications about spring quarter operations will be sent by UW leadership in the near future.

In the meantime, to align with state and local actions the UW is making following changes to its policies:

  • Face coverings are no longer required for outdoor events or gatherings of 500 or more people as of Feb. 18, 2022. Masks continue to be required indoors in all UW facilities, regardless of your vaccination status, in accordance with the University’s Face Covering Policy.
  • Effective March 1, 2022, vaccine verification will no longer be required for events or venues such as museums and theaters that currently require it. Event organizers and venue managers may continue to require proof of vaccination or negative test if they choose to do so. We will be updating the relevant UW policies accordingly.

Gov. Inslee also announced he will end the state’s indoor mask mandate on March 21, 2022. However, before we are able to make any changes to the UW’s mask policies, we must first receive guidance from the King County and Pierce County health departments, as well as receive updated workplace safety regulations from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. We will review those as soon as they are issued and broadly communicate any changes to relevant University policies. Until then, the UW’s indoor mask mandate remains in place and will not be lifted prior to the end of winter quarter. We appreciate your patience as the University works through this process.

A multi-layered prevention strategy continues to be important to protect against both current and future COVID-19 surges. Vaccination and getting boosters when eligible are the most important tools available to prevent severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. In addition:

  • Stay home and isolate away from others if you are ill.
  • Use a high-quality, well-fitting KF94, KN95, N95 or surgical mask when indoors.
  • Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • Get tested when possible if you have symptoms or are exposed.
  • Quarantine away from others if you are not up to date on your vaccinations and are exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Individuals who are immunocompromised or who live with people who are at higher risk for serious health outcomes may want to take extra precautions.

We all welcome this much needed good news. But we also recognize that the virus will continue to evolve, and we must also evolve and adapt our response. Thank you for everything you have been doing over the last two years of the pandemic to keep yourself, your friends and loved ones, and the UW community healthy and safe.


Geoffrey S. Gottlieb, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, University Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD)
Medical Director, Environmental Health & Safety Department
Professor, School of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases