In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to an end and the summer of social gatherings to begin.

Since the CDC made its big mask announcement last month, many businesses and individuals have jumped ahead of state government when it comes to relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. It’s time for Gov. Jay Inslee to catch up and nix all the pandemic rules.

Last month, the governor announced that the state could reopen earlier than the June 30 deadline if at least 70 percent of residents 16 years and older have gotten at least one vaccination. When he held a press conference last week, the state as a whole was just 6 percent away and King County was over the 70 percent mark. Those numbers didn’t take into account all the inoculations done by the federal government.

At this point, just about everyone 12 years old and older can get a vaccine without much effort. And they work better than expected. Statistics show that 97 percent of new cases are of unvaccinated people.

The people who are fully vaccinated shouldn’t have to sit apart from others in restaurants, wear face coverings in public places or generally remain distanced because of those who didn’t get vaccinated.

Businesses shouldn’t be curtailed either.

People who aren’t vaccinated need to take personal responsibility and do their own social distancing while the rest of us throw off our masks. Since bonfires aren’t environmentally friendly, perhaps people can get together and compost their masks.

All levels of government have made missteps during these unprecedented times, but history will show that Washington state government was effective in both managing the spread of COVID-19 and rolling out vaccinations — at least compared to other states. Statistics show that Washington has one of the lowest rates of COVID cases overall and the highest vaccination rates so far.

The governor need not worry about ruining his coronavirus battling average by lifting restrictions. The focus should be on getting more people to pull up their sleeves and take one for the team.

It’s a weird time right now when it comes to pandemic etiquette. Some people wear masks. Some don’t. Some pointlessly pull them down below their noses.

The governor should put an end to the uncertainty and call off the COVID police right away.

A sense of closure is what we all need.