Businesses unsure of future while neighboring counties see restrictions loosened

While several Western Washington counties prepare to enter Phase 2, neighboring counties and businesses within them are still unsure of their future.

This week, Governor Jay Inslee announced seven counties (King, Snohomish, Pierce, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Pacific Counties) would move to Phase 2 on Monday.

Phase 2 allows several forms of business to open once again and loosens restrictions on others.

While this is great news for a lot of local business owners in the included counties, for folks in neighboring counties, it leaves them with a lot of questions.

"If there’s other counties, not that far away, that are going to be open soon, there will go the rest of my business; it’s not fair," said Roy Cray.

Cray is the owner of Cray’s diner in Bremerton. He opened his business only a few months before the pandemic. Cray said staying open during the last year has been a challenge.

"It’s kind of like working your own funeral. Your guest come in sad. They see the struggle. They want to help, but they can’t," he said.

Recently, Cray said he’s had to deal with the loss of customers who are going to restaurants that are offering outdoor seating options, and even businesses who are secretly allowing folks to eat inside, despite the mandate.

He said with folks having the options to now drive a few minutes south to Pierce County and eat inside, it doesn’t give him many choices.

"I need people to be able to come inside again," said Cray.

While Cray is following all the mandates imposed by the state, he does not think they are fair.

"This {restrictions} needs to be across the board. If you think not eating at a restaurant is going to stop all of this, not going to a gym is going to stop all this, then, it needs to stop everywhere, for a period of time, till it’s better, or not. Just let the people have the choice themselves, the freedom to have their own choice," he said.