Pierce County may reach Phase 2 by next week

TACOMA -- Pierce County leaders plan to ask state officials to move their communities into Phase 2 as early as Monday.

Governor Jay Inslee’s new ‘Safe Start’ plan is meant to be more flexible for counties facing a variety of unique challenges.

It’s promising news for businesses who are still fighting for survival.

“Half as many tables in here as there were before,” said Harmon Pac Ave general manager Nathan Vaughn.

If you haven’t been to Harmon Brewing Company location in Tacoma for a while you will find the dining area now has more elbow room.

“The tables are going to be spread apart, our crew members are going to wearing masks and gloves,” said Vaughn.

The restaurant closed for a few weeks at the beginning of the lockdown then reopened later to offer take out.

Like most other restaurants business has been rough.

“I think we’re not alone in the idea that we’re just trying to survive,” Vaughn said.

“We’ve got families that are struggling, we’ve got businesses teetering on the edge,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “I want to give them a chance to survive this.”

For weeks Tacoma businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the shutdown.

This week county health and elected leaders announced plans to ask state officials to allow employers a way to inch their way back to normal.

“Days at this point matter,” added Dammeier. “Small businesses and families that are hanging on by their fingernails.”

County health officials on Thursday said they did not believe the number of new covid-19 infections were low enough to move to Phase 2. The new approach allows counties more flexibility. Dammeier says the county has taken significant steps which could convince state leaders to allow reopening.

“We not only have our numbers going down, we think we’re prepared to respond to an outbreak and the tools to help our community,” Dammeier said.

South Sound unemployment figures recently surpassed 18%. Vaughn says only some of his employees are back on the clock, but the chance to return to a shred of normalcy could be around the corner.

“It will be interesting to see what’s happening in other counties right now,” said Vaughn. “We could use that as a guideline but I think people are going to come back.”

Pierce County officials could approve their plans Monday and if state leaders sign off, the South Sound community could enter Phase 2 as soon as Tuesday.