King County approved for Phase 2 of reopening: immediately increases business capacity, slightly relaxes social gathering restrictions

On Friday morning, June 19th, the Washington State Department of Health announced Secretary of Health John Wiesman had approved King County to move to Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start plan.

Island, Lewis, and Mason counties were also approved to move to Phase 3. Currently, a total of three counties are in Phase 1, two counties are in a modified version of Phase 1, 19 counties are in Phase 2 and 15 counties are in Phase 3.

King County – in a modified phase 1.5 for the past two weeks – had applied for phase 2 on Monday and had anticipated the phase 2 approval as early today.

Under Phase 2 approval, retail businesses and restaurants can immediately operate at twice the indoor capacity permitted in Phase 1.5, provided they meet all re-opening requirements set out by the state’s guidance.

See full Phase 2 business and activity guidance HERE.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said earlier this week, “Make no mistake – successful economic recovery will depend on everyone in King County carefully following the recommendations of our Public Health experts, including wearing face coverings and avoiding unnecessary contacts, so together we can keep re-opening our community while holding the line on the pandemic.”

There is a required two-week minimum between moving phases for Washington counties. To apply to move to the next phase, counties must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health and the county executive or county commission.

According to DOH, each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The metric goals for moving between phases are intended to be applied as targets, not hardline measures. Where one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset a county’s overall risk.

Currently King County is meeting all but two of the its Key Metric goals for moving phases.

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