SNOHOMISH, Wash. - A stubborn pandemic threatens to revert phased reopening in counties across Western Washington. Come next week state leadership may announce restrictions that will impact businesses, workers, and families across industries and zip codes.
Snohomish and King County have been operating under Phase 3 guidelines, while infection and hospitalization rates had already forced Pierce County into Phase 2. All of them and more across the state might soon be required to further limit capacity for gatherings.
Some businesses have chosen to expand short of phased thresholds, fearing if rollbacks are inevitable, the change won’t be as drastic were they not.
Friday evening, the city of Snohomish was bustling. Finding a parking spot on 1st Street was a chore as people strolled busy sidewalks under warm, inviting skies.
Some restaurants enjoy a slight advantage over other businesses' ability to reach capacity, as warmer weather may entice more customers to gather for meals outdoors. However, the difference between Phases 2 and 3 for other types of businesses does not always allow for similar opportunities.
Students at Pacific West Performing Arts have been dancing in small groups for many weeks. The studio’s co-owner Ian Howe told Q13 News his business did not attempt to reach the maximum capacity allowed under Phase 3, as he worried a rollback would inevitably require programs to be cut in half.
Summer recitals are also top of mind for dance students and instructors, says Howe, but differences between each phase’s capacity may allow for several of a student’s family members to join as an audience, or restrict visitors to only one per student.
Howe said instructors and students have bent over backward to remain in compliance, but he worries young people may suffer the most should a rollback be announced next week.
"This is sometimes the only activity their families let them do," he said. Dance and the art’s impact on young people’s development should be viewed as essential, Howe added.
County health officials continue stressing vaccination as the best pathway which may finally end phased restrictions. However, for businesses like Howe’s, most clients are not yet eligible for a vaccine. Emergency authorization for children under 12 years old has yet been approved.
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