Puget Sound live music venues wary of eased reopening guidelines

The beginning of February ushered in a series of new health guidelines since Gov. Jay Inslee revised reopening plans.

The state has been split into two phases with only some counties west of the Cascades graduating into Phase 2.

Live performance venues are now allowed to reopen for some in-person entertainment but some facility owners appear wary as the pandemic rages.

"I don’t want people to get in danger for their art," said Caroline Anne, owner of Art Punk Photography.

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King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and others, are approved for Phase 2 reopening guidelines, but Anne worries the timing is not ideal.

Even though indoor concert halls are allowed to reopen under Phase 2, she worries reopening this early is not smart.

"Is it even worth it?" she asked. 

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"We want to be open but here’s still a concern," said Craig Jewell, co-owner of Wild Buffalo House of Music in Whatcom County. 

Jewell can’t proceed with booking artists as Bellingham remains in Phase 1. His venue can welcome more than 400 people in the best of times, but even Phase 2 restrictions would mean he could barely fit in 20.

He is also a board member of Keep Music Live Washington. The non-profit has been raising money to keep venues afloat during unprecedented times, but worries some colleagues have had to close

"We’re going to operate at less than capacity," said Ryan Acklus who owns Everett Skate Deck roller-skating rink in the North Sound. He said customers are allowed to return as he lives in an area under Phase 2, but worries other businesses will continue to struggle.

Before Anne can get back to shooting concerts, she worries the vaccine will need to be much farther along.

"If we’re going to open public venues, we need to protect the frontline workers," she said.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee announces 7 counties moving into Phase 2 of reopening