San Juan County Mask Order Still in Place, Despite CDC Recommendation

Contributed Photo/Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Officials Say Indoor Masking Protects Unvaccinated Children


From San Juan County

The Center for Disease Control has recently released new guidance on wearing masks for fully vaccinated individuals.

That announcement has been followed by the governor’s decision to more or less match the CDC guidance.

Fully vaccinated means two weeks past your final shot.

This guidance was released with no advance warning or coordination with local or state government. It will be a little while before the details are sorted. 


The CDC guidance specifically mentions that their approach does not replace any local or state regulations.

The San Juan County Health Officer order requiring customers to mask up inside businesses remains in place.

This applies whether you are vaccinated or not.

The reasoning is simple: many island businesses rely on teenage employees who are only now able to receive their vaccine.

Protecting them is vital, especially as we head into Memorial Day weekend. The health officer order will be revisited in mid-June once our island teenagers have had a chance to be fully vaccinated.

Any unvaccinated children 12 or older should get their shots now. To register for the current clinics for ages 12 and up, visit

There is no guarantee that there will be opportunities to receive the Pfizer vaccine through local vaccine providers once the currently scheduled clinics are over.

Our highest risk group at this point is children 15 and under – none of whom are fully vaccinated at this time.

Those children and their parents need to be extra cautious about exposure to high-risk situations (indoors, unmasked, especially with unvaccinated individuals). After 12- to 15-year-olds have been vaccinated, extra caution will still be needed for children 11 and under.

If you are still making the choice to not be vaccinated or to not vaccinate your children, know that loosening restrictions on masks will increase your risk.


The CDC guidance around outdoor masking is reasonable. Fully vaccinated individuals may go unmasked when outside.

In addition, no one needs to wear a mask in uncrowded areas when walking down the street, on a dock, or through a park – whether they are vaccinated or not.

Those unvaccinated should keep their masks on when in crowded outdoor spaces with extended exposure. Farmers’ markets, walking off a ferry, parades, or at an outdoor concert are all examples of outdoor places where anyone unvaccinated must mask up.

Note that work requirements may differ, and as always will be determined by Washington Labor & Industries. In addition, any facility or property owner may establish their own rules requiring masks in outdoor settings.

Schools, Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Ferries

There are some situations where state or federal law will continue to require masks. This includes schools, health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and public transit (including ferries and airplanes).

These state requirements may expand in the days to come.

As is often the case when national and state politics impact local policy, the job of making sense of it all falls squarely on the shoulders of citizens and local government. Please be patient.

Posted on May 16, 2021 at 5:30 am by

Categories: Health & Wellness, Safety

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0
%d bloggers like this: