King County applies for modified Phase 1 reopening

SEATTLE -- King County has asked the state to approve its plan for a modified Phase 1 opening under the governor's plan to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to King County, public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has signed off on a plan that would:

    “Our plan to safely reopen our region’s economy is based on the latest data, recommendations by Public Health experts, and insight from communities and businesses,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “We are ready to take the next careful step toward an equitable recovery that benefits everyone who calls King County home."

    Initially, only counties with a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 over three weeks could apply for a quicker reopening. But Inslee has since modified those metrics, allowing those with fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period to apply for a variance from the order.

    Some larger counties, including Pierce and Snohomish, had argued the case count requirement was too strict and that their counties were ready to advance.

    Now, counties can apply to move to the next phase or to add new business activity, with the applications assessed on several targets, including whether the counties have had fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.

    So far, 26 counties have been approved for Phase 2 reopening, which includes:

      Once counties have been in Phase 2 for at least three weeks they can apply to move to Phase 3, which expands group gatherings to 50 or less, including sports activities, and allows restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. Gyms and movie theaters could reopen at half capacity, but nightclubs and entertainment venues will still remain closed during this phase.

      Eight counties - Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens and Wahkiakum - are now eligible to apply for Phase 3.

      Most public interactions resume in the final phase, with bars, restaurants and entertainment and sporting venues returning to their regular capacity.