In light of high vaccination rates among Washington’s farmworkers and shifting federal guidelines about coronavirus precautions, state workplace safety and health officials loosened temporary farmworker housing restrictions today.
The state’s Department of Labor and Industries and Department of Health filed updated emergency rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus among farm workers, many of whom live in congregate on-farm settings.
Key updates, according to a news release from the Labor and Industries Department, are:
—Cloth face coverings are no longer required for fully vaccinated workers.
—With the exception of sleeping quarters, fully vaccinated occupants no longer need to maintain social distance.
—Bunk beds are now allowed in sleeping quarters occupied solely by fully vaccinated workers. Spacing must meet prior requirements of at least 3 feet between single beds and 4 feet between bunk beds. Up until May 28, the state had prohibited the use of bunk beds except for cohorts of workers who live, work and travel together.
—Before allowing the changes, operators must verify workers are fully vaccinated, through a signed attestation or proof of vaccination. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine.
The state issued emergency housing rules last year and extended them most recently on May 9. Most of the other rules will remain in effect, according to the news release.
To read the entire list of updated rules, find the links in the department’s news release at https://www.lni.wa.gov/news-events/article/?id=21-011.
—by Ross Courtney