Masks Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Your safety is our highest priority. Our mask policy is based on local, state, and federal regulations plus best practices for similar industries across the country. Thank you for all that you do to help keep yourself, our staff, and our community safe at the Y.

Last updated: May 21, 2021


Our Mask Policy at the Y

King County issued a directive on May 20, 2021 urging everyone age 5 and older to continue wearing face coverings in indoor spaces open to the public unless a state-approved method is used to track vaccination status. The directive states, “Continued use of face masks for everyone five years of age and older within indoor public spaces is reasonable and necessary in King County to reduce the risk for COVID-19 transmission until more of the population is protected through vaccination and COVID-19 disease rates decline.” 

In accordance with this directive, we require that individuals 5 years old and older wear a properly fitting mask indoors, including when:

  • Using common spaces, including the lobby, pool deck, and locker rooms
  • Exercising indoors

We strongly encourage children ages 2 to 4 to wear a properly fitting mask too.

Our mask requirements apply to anyone in our facilities, including staff, unless they are working alone in an office. Individuals who are not instructors and are either in the water (i.e. a swimming pool or shower) or exercising outdoors are not required to wear a mask. 


How to Select and Wear a Mask

For help understanding how masks should fit, we follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps

Please do not wear masks that:

  • Have exhalation valves or vents because they allow virus particles to escape
  • Are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl
  • Are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks

If you wear a gaiter, please wear a gaiter with two layers or fold it to make two layers.

If you wear a face shield, please wear a mask as well. The CDC does not recommend using face shields as a substitute for masks and so they must be worn together in our facilities.


If You Do Not Wear a Mask

Staff will remind individuals to properly wear their masks and may offer them a complimentary mask if needed. If an individual ultimately does not follow our mask policy, we will ask them to leave our facility or class to ensure the safety of others.

If the individual repeats this behavior we will ask them to take accountability for their actions. At the Y, accountability starts with a conversation between the individual and a member of our leadership team. Accountability may also include temporary loss of privileges, suspension of membership, or termination of membership. Learn more about our code of conduct >

At the Y we expect individuals to uphold our core values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. Following our safety protocols, including this mask policy, is an important demonstration of these values. Thank you for your cooperation in prioritizing safety and creating a welcoming and positive environment for all people at the Y.


Alternatives to In-Person Activities

We recognize that not everyone can safely wear a mask, including individuals who have trouble breathing or have sensory, cognitive, or behavioral issues that make wearing a mask difficult. We invite these individuals to engage with us from home in the Virtual Y, our newest home for live and on-demand content online. Learn more about Virtual Y >



Commonly Asked Questions

Why aren't you tracking the vaccination status of members?

Given the size and diversity of our community, we feel that it is impractical to track vaccination status and inequitable to require full vaccination in order to participate in activities at the Y at this time. The Y is a place for all. We do believe that vaccines save lives and encourage unvaccinated members of our community to join us at an upcoming clinic

Why are you still requiring masks when the CDC has stated that vaccinated people do not need to wear mask?

We’re aligning our policy with the King County Department of Health Directive released on 5/20/2021.  Additionally, out of an abundance of caution and for the protection of the families and young children we serve, we believe maintaining our mask policy is in the best interest of our community at this time.  

Are you requiring staff to be vaccinated?

The Y is not requiring staff to be fully vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination. Similar to members, staff are required to wear masks and socially distance. 

Do I have to wear a mask if I’ve had the vaccine, or if I have COVID-19 antibodies?

Yes, we require masks at all times regardless of your vaccine or antibody status. In the Centers for Disease Control guidance on When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated, they state that when you are fully vaccinated "you will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses." For the YMCA of Greater Seattle, that means we are following King County guidelines until they are updated otherwise. 

Do you offer programs for fully-vaccinated people?

No, we do not currently offer programs or activities that require the COVID-19 vaccine.