OLYMPIA -- Ten more counties in Washington state are now eligible to apply for Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to reopen the economy under new guidelines released today.
This includes Spokane, Adams, Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Clark, Kitsap, Clallam, San Juan and Island counties. Ten other counties already have received variances to move to Phase 2 of reopening.
Grays Harbor and Jefferson counties were already able to apply for a variance under the old guidelines.
Inslee said Tuesday that the 22 counties eligible for Phase 2 represent about 30 percent of the state's population.
Inslee has loosened some of the requirements for counties to receive a variance. Previously, they had to report zero new cases in three weeks. Now, counties can apply if they've had fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days.
Inslee also has eliminated the requirement that counties applying for variances have a population of less than 75,000, as several of the counties eligible to apply have more than 75,000 residents.
“This criteria for the next phase of our recovery plan is consistent with the CDC guidelines for opening regions nationwide,” Inslee said. He said that the move will allow more economic opportunities for those counties, “while still providing the protections we need for the health of our citizens.”
The new criteria is notable, especially for Spokane and Clallam counties. Both Republican and Democrat leaders in those counties have rallied to move to Phase 2.
Here’s what businesses are allowed to reopen under Phase 2 of the governor’s plan:
– Remaining manufacturing
– Additional construction phases
– In-home/domestic services (nannies, housecleaning, etc.)
– Retail (in-store purchases allowed with restrictions)
– Real estate
– Professional services/office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
– Hair and nail salons/barbers
– Pet grooming
– Restaurants <50% capacity table size no larger than 5
Inslee announced Monday that dentists and doctors’ offices can reopen immediately for non-urgent treatment if coronavirus safety protocols are in place, including adequate personal protective equipment for workers.
Businesses in the counties approved to move into Phase 2 must wait to reopen “until guidance has been released for their industry on how to keep workers and the public safe.”
They must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in that guidance to reopen.
The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.
Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for:
The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.
The rest of the state is still under Phase 1, which allows day use activities at most state parks and some outdoor recreation like hunting, golfing and fishing to resume.
Businesses allowed to reopen under Phase 1 include:
-Existing construction that meets agreed upon criteria
– Auto/RV/boat/ORV sales
– Retail (curb-side pick-up orders only)
– Car washes
– Pet walkers
Read the state's "Safe Start" plan here.
More than 18,600 people in Washington state have tested positive for the coronavirus and at least 1,002 have died. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Inslee said that while the state has seen progress — including a recent reduction in daily deaths reported — he said "we’re so far from being out of the woods,” noting that there are still 150-200 new cases confirmed a day in the state.
“This has not passed," he said. "We have flattened the curve, but it continues to haunt us.”
Washington’s stay-at-home order — in place since March 23 — has been extended through at least May 31, and more than 1 million people in the state have filed for unemployment benefits since businesses started closing in March due to COVID-19.