Thurston, Kittitas and Walla Walla counties approved for Phase 2 reopening

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. -- Three more counties -- Kittitas, Thurston, and Walla Walla -- have been approved for Phase 2 reopening under the governor's Safe Start plan to reopen the economy.

This brings the total number of counties allowed to reopen barber shops, salons, dine-in service at restaurants and more to 24: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman.

Kittitas County's application for a Phase 2 variance had been on hold for a few weeks because of an outbreak at Twin City Foods.

"Over the past three weeks, the Kittitas County Public Health Department demonstrated their ability to quickly and thoughtfully respond to an outbreak in their community. The Washington State Department of Health continues to have confidence in their approach," the state said in a news release.

Clallam, Kitsap, and Klickitat counties are eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2. The application from Clark County remains on pause due to an outbreak investigation. Kitsap County is set to vote Wednesday (May 27) on whether to move forward with a Phase 2 variance application.

To apply for a variance, counties must have an average of less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for:

    The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.

    The rest of the state is still under Phase 1, which allows day use activities at most state parks and some outdoor recreation like hunting, golfing and fishing to resume.

    Businesses allowed to reopen under Phase 1 include:

    -Existing construction that meets agreed upon criteria
    – Landscaping
    – Auto/RV/boat/ORV sales
    – Retail (curb-side pick-up orders only)
    – Car washes
    – Pet walkers

    Read the state's "Safe Start" plan here.