Saying “better late than never”, the Washington Farm Bureau and the Washington Farm Labor Association are breathing a sigh of relief, after Governor Jay Inslee, the State Department of Labor and the Health Department revised emergency housing rules for farmworkers. WAFLA Executive Director, Dan Fazio said removing the masking and social distancing requirements makes perfect sense because the farming community has been doing the right thing all along.

“The workers coming from Mexico, we tell the workers, you’re going to be tested upon arrival and then if you’re not interested in being vaccinated this probably isn’t going to be the job for you because you’re going to be living in a congregant housing facility. And so, the workers have all that information before they come up from Mexico and they are not reluctant to get vaccinated. So, we have vaccination rates from the workers from Mexico that are nearing 100%t.”

But, Fazio said there are exceptions, but he noted in most cases, those expectations are because of medical issues, or potential complications. Fazio said with more and more of the H-2A crew vaccinated, Ag managers can now turn their focus to the rest of the workforce.

“But now we have a lot of workers who are domestic workers that are coming from California and we’re just hopeful that we can work with the government agencies to encourage them to get vaccinated. And obviously, the best encouragement is to say, if you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask. In fact, that’s what the CDC told us.”

Last week’s move follows months of battling with Inslee to revise the farmworker housing rules as well as mask and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated workers.

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