Inslee: Large events must require vaccine verification or negative COVID-19 test – The Spokesman Review

OLYMPIA – Going to a Spokane Chiefs hockey game will soon require a little more preparation: proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative disease test.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a new directive Thursday requiring anyone attending large games, concerts and other events that require tickets or reservations to be vaccinated and ready to prove it. The requirement begins Nov. 15 and applies specifically to outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees, and indoor events drawing 1,000 people or more.

It does not include religious services or events held on K-12 school grounds. It also does not cover large venues like shopping malls, museums or grocery stores.

“This is another step in this ongoing battle against COVID-19,” Inslee said.

The vaccine mandate does not apply to children younger than 12.

Although outdoor events are the safest, Inslee said there is still some transmission risk associated with them.

An acceptable form of vaccine verification is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention card or a photo of the card; a printed vaccination certificate from or a screenshot of one; or official documentation from a physician. A negative COVID-19 test can be verified through a record from the test provider or laboratory.

The requirement will not include showing a drivers license along with the vaccine card, according to Inslee’s office.

The Department of Health is currently working on a digital verification process that may verify vaccine cards within the program and give users a QR code they can scan at events, Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said. A QR code or similar program could make it quicker for venues to check vaccines or testing and not lead to long lines.

Many large venues in the state have already had this requirement to attend. For example, similar requirements are in place at Spokane Pavilion events, Washington State University games, University of Washington games, Seahawks games and Kraken games.

This new requirement will likely apply to most if not all events at the Spokane Arena, which can accommodate 10,000 to more than 11,000 people for concerts depending on the arrangement. Other events, like hockey games, can accommodate more than 9,000 fans at the Arena.

The Spokane Chiefs organization said Thursday afternoon it supports Inslee’s mandate and will require fans provide vaccination proof or a negative test beginning with its home game on Nov. 19.

Some but not all venues in Spokane have already implemented similar requirements to the governor’s announced on Thursday. Lucky You Lounge, which hosts multiple shows and concerts a week, requires vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the event.

The reason for instating a statewide vaccine requirement at these large events is that not everybody is doing it, Inslee said.

“What we have done to date is not adequate,” he said.

Cases rates and hospitalizations are showing some decline statewide but are still “at an extremely high number,” Shah said. Because they remain high, preventing the spread at large events is important.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Shah said. “There’s a lot of really important work ahead of us.”

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have steadily dropped in Spokane County so far this month although they are currently at levels seen last winter.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 294 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Thursday.

There have been 878 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County.

There are 150 patients with the virus in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District reported 380 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The North Idaho district continues to work through more than 3,000 backlogged case reports.

There have been 534 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Panhandle.

There are 132 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.