SNOHOMISH, Wash. - New pandemic public health guidelines for business owners able to reopen for customers went live Monday. This time reopening efforts are part of a regional approach.
Governor Jay Inslee’s ‘Healthy Washington’ plan resets non-essential businesses state-wide into the first of two phases. But, some business owners worry the changes can be confusing, and still can leave out all but the loudest voices reaching elected leaders.
"Still confused," said Ian Howe, owner of Pacific West Performing Arts Dance Studio.
Until Monday, Howe’s and many other similar businesses were not able to accommodate in-person business due to pandemic restrictions.
Howe’s business operates in both Snohomish and Lake Stevens. He says juggle both and surviving a pandemic has been a challenge. The past year has been a challenge, he said, but giving up is not, and being forced to close again could be fatal to his business.
"We have had 2 cases in 5 months," he said, declaring the infections did not originate in his studios.
The new guidelines splits the state into clustered counties regionally and shifts from 4 to 2 phases. The changes also include updated lists of impacted businesses and other information is here. Gyms and dance studios are now to open for business as long as guidelines are followed.
Earlier this year, the state threatened legal action against businesses who reopened too early under phased reopening guidelines issued at the beginning of the pandemic. The Attorney General of Washington State warned businesses owners with legal action should they continue defying orders. The owners of an Arlington gym called PA Fitnesshas since reopened under the new rules. The owner declined to interview with Q13 News.
Through the months of uncertainty and confusion, Howe says he and other dance studios are gathering a coalition to unify their voices should leaders again shift public health guidelines. The message he hopes to share with his community, clients, elected leaders and others is clear.
"We are providing an essential service," he said.