Jun 2, 2021Ag groups react as Washington state repeals COVID-19 rules for workers
Following ongoing appeals by Washington state’s leading agricultural groups, state regulators announced May 28 that fully vaccinated farmworkers do not have to wear a mask or socially distance at work or in congregate housing facilities, like all other vaccinated employees in the state.
The state had previously said they would let stand COVID-19 restrictions for farmers and their vaccinated workers that contradicted the state’s reopening guidance for businesses.
Farmers across the state have been leading a comprehensive worker safety program focused on widespread testing and vaccination of workers living in licensed housing facilities. As a result, the CDC has recognized that farm workers living in licensed housing facilities in Washington state are three times safer than workers living in local communities. Nearly 100 percent of the workers living in these facilities have been tested and vaccinated.
Washington Farm Bureau chief executive John Stuhlmiller and wafla executive director Dan Fazio issued the following joint statement:
“This is great news. Farmers are gearing up for the start of the summer harvest season and these updated regulations will go a long way to putting them on the path to economic recovery.
“Farmers have always made safety a top priority. We have done the right thing by enhancing worker safety through testing and achieving among the highest vaccinations rates in the nation.
“We’re pleased state regulators recognized this by following the science in reversing their decision and are lifting these economically devastating restrictions.
“While we appreciate the progress being made against the COVID pandemic, we understand the battle is not over and are committed to continue taking all steps necessary to protect the health and well-being of farm workers.”