State relaxes some emergency COVID-19 rules for ag workers

The state has relaxed some emergency rules so fully vaccinated farmworkers living in temporary housing no longer need to wear masks.

The state Department of Labor & Industries and the state Department of Health issued updated rules on Friday. That was after Washington Farm Labor Association Executive Director Dan Fazio and Washington Farm Bureau Chief Executive John Stuhlmiller last week raised concerns that farmworkers weren’t covered when the state decided fully vaccinated workers didn’t need to wear masks.

They complained the rules, implemented for the COVID-19 pandemic, increased costs while failing to protect workers.

Among the changes:

Masks are not required for fully vaccinated workers living in temporary worker housing.

In most situations, fully vaccinated workers no longer need to social distance.

In sleeping quarters with only fully vaccinated occupants, bed spacing must meet prior requirements, including spacing of at least 3 feet between single beds and 4 feet between bunk beds. Both the top and bottom bunk may be used.

Agricultural operators must verify workers are fully vaccinated before making the changes.

Most of the other requirements under the previous emergency rules, filed May 9, remain in effect. They spell out requirements for training, sanitation, ventilation and isolation of people with COVID-19.

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