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

The state Department of Labor & Industries and the state Department of Health issued updated rules on Friday, according to a news release.

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 discontinuing the use of masks or making spacing changes, according to the release.

Washington Farm Labor Association Executive Director Dan Fazio and Washington Farm Bureau Chief Executive John Stuhlmiller earlier this week raised concerns that farmworkers weren’t covered in the state’s announcement saying fully vaccinated workers didn’t need to wear masks.

The two groups sued the state agencies in Yakima County Superior Court earlier this year, arguing the state’s farmworker policies weren’t keeping pace with the latest understanding of COVID-19 transmission and best safety practices. The groups have said the restrictions have limited growers’ ability to house workers and have financial impacts.

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.

TNS