Inslee: All counties will be in Phase 3 on Tuesday, state on-track for full re-opening by June 30

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that all counties will be in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan on Tuesday, May 18.

Counties currently in Phase 2 - Pierce, Cowlitz, Whitman and Ferry - will also move ahead to Phase 3 which means 50% capacity for most indoor activities.

Inslee said on or before June 30, counties will return to full capacity at a majority of public spaces like restaurants and movie theaters.

Effective immediately, though, the state will be allowing additional activities with fewer restrictions and increase capacity for groups of fully vaccinated people. 

Image credit: Office of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Spectator events like indoor and outdoor sports will no longer have limits on the number of vaccinated attendees. Small cruise ships with less than 250 passengers can sail if the crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated. This will also apply to conferences and live performances, weddings and funeral receptions as well. 

RELATED: Washington state expands use of Pfizer vaccine for anyone 12 years old and older

And Inslee said Washington would immediately adopt new guidance offered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which eased most indoor mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people. Businesses will retain the right to require customers to wear masks, and masks will still be required in hospitals, schools and on public transportation, he said.

"This is a heck of a benefit," Inslee said. "People who have been annoyed with this mask — that shot is a ticket to freedom from masks."

New guidance on these types of reopenings is in the works and will be released by the state soon.

Inslee said the move comes as COVID-19 cases are in a decline, rather than a plateau.

This full reopening could happen earlier if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 have at least initiated their vaccinations before then, Inslee's office said.

Image credit: Office of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

According to Inslee's office, trends suggest it won’t be until late June when the state reaches its desired vaccination rate.

"I hope people will see this as an opportunity to reopen even sooner if we can stay motivated, stay informed and get more people vaccinated faster," Inslee said. 

However, if statewide ICU capacity reaches 90% at any point, there will be rollbacks again. 

Inslee said that his decision does not mean the state of emergency sparked by the coronavirus pandemic will end on June 30, and he said that if statewide intensive care capacity reaches 90% at at any point, he will roll back activities again.

All state residents age 16 and up have been eligible for a coronavirus vaccination since April 15. As of this week, more than 6 million doses of vaccine have been administered, with more than 57% of those age 16 and up getting at least one dose. Nearly 44% of people age 16 and older are fully vaccinated. As of this week, youth aged 12 to 15 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Inslee’s linking faster easing of COVID restrictions to vaccination rates is similar to what Oregon Gov. Kate Brown recently announced. This week Brown said much of her state’s economy can reopen when 70% of eligible people 16 and older have received their first vaccine dose.

Inslee also said he is looking at additional incentives for people to get vaccinated, including lifting the crowd limits on the number of vaccinated attendees at indoor and outdoor sports. And starting at Thursday night’s Seattle Mariners home game, vaccinated fans are eligible for prizes.

Inslee said the state’s Department of Commerce is also working with the Association of Washington Business to fund gift cards to local businesses for residents who are recently vaccinated, and the Liquor & Cannabis Board is working on a request from wineries and breweries to allow vaccinated customers to get a free drink.

Inslee’s announcement comes just over a week after the last shift in the state’s reopening plan — which was based on the number of new cases and hospitalizations — when he said all of the state’s counties would remain in their current phase of the state’s economic reopening plan, which angered some in the four counties that were stuck in Phase 2.

But Inslee said that the plateau in COVID-19 activity the state saw a few weeks ago has now turned into a decline, allowing for a full reopening date.

There have been more than 385,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases — plus another 32,000 "probable" cases — in Washington state, and 5,614 deaths.

Find out more information on the vaccine here

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.