Ballard businesses adapting to Delta variant with mask requirements and proof of vaccination for entry

A number of local businesses are now reinstating mask requirements for patrons after King County and the CDC this week recommended that even vaccinated individuals should mask up to slow the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced yesterday that Washington will follow current CDC guidance in recommending that folks—vaccinated or not—wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. “This is a recommendation, not a requirement,” Inslee wrote on Twitter.

However, masks will be required when K-12 schools resume in the fall: “All students and employees will be required to wear masks around each other in school buildings,” he wrote.

Ballard businesses are responding to the new mask mandate differently, with some requiring masks again and others opting for proof of vaccination for entry.

Skål Beer Hall has reinstated their mask policy inside the beer hall. “All employees and guests are required to wear a mask inside when not eating/drinking regardless of their vaccination status. This decision is unfortunate but based on new guidance from both King County and the CDC and designed to keep our employees and our guests safe,” Skål shared on social media.

Kiss Cafe has also announced that masks are again required for both employees and customers. “For the health and safety of our staff and patrons we will be requiring masks to be worn indoors vaccinated or not. Thank you for your understanding. Let’s beat this thing!” Kiss wrote on Facebook.

Other businesses are choosing a different approach: The Ballard Station Public House will be requiring proof of vaccination upon entry to the bar or patio. “These measures have been put in place for the safety of our staff, patrons, and community. Starting today, we will accept actual Vax cards or photos as proof,” Ballard Station wrote on their Facebook page.

The CDC made their new mask recommendation on Tuesday, saying that counties with rising rates of COVID case rates should once again adopt the indoor mask policy, even for those vaccinated. The CDC also recommended that masks be worn indoors for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors at schools across the country.

To help local jurisdictions determine whether masking is necessary, the CDC created a case rate map broken down by county. There are four categories: Low, moderate, substantial, and high. Right now, King County is in the “substantial” category—the CDC is recommending masks indoors for everyone in counties with substantial or high rates of transmission.

King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin says a layered approach is best to protect against the Delta variant.

“In addition to vaccination (most important) and high quality, well-fitting masks, other important protective layers include improving indoor ventilation, distancing, limiting indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people, especially in crowded spaces,” Dr. Duchin wrote on Twitter.

Photo: Kiss Cafe on Facebook