On Friday, June 5th, the Washington State Department of Health approved 14 counties to progress to different phases of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan, including King County’s modified phase 1 – or phase 1.5 – request.
According to King County, the approval “immediately allows limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses, recreation, and personal activities in King County.”
Read our earlier story on King County’s Phase 1.5 request submitted to the State.
Businesses are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance, but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified below. The State defines an establishment’s capacity as the fire code.
King County stated, “The intent is to limit business operations to a level that allows for social distancing. Additionally, businesses in retail, professional services, and real estate must take steps to reduce indoor operations to thirty minutes. This is not meant to be timed to the second – no one is expected to have a stopwatch – but customers should be informed why it is important to limit close interactions.”
Overview of what’s happening in key sectors across King County [See full phase 1.5 reopening chart with limitations and requirements at bottom]:
• Outdoor dining activities is allowed at 50 percent of capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance, though additional seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices. Restaurants will also need to go through the normal process within their city – or King County if the establishment is located within unincorporated King County – to seek approval to expand outdoor seating.
• Indoor dining services may operate at 25 percent of capacity, provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.
• All non-essential retail activities may operate but an establishment’s occupancy may not be not be higher than 15 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• Essential retail activities may continue to operate according to the existing state regulations.
Personal services: Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools
• All activities may operate but the number of clients served will be limited to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person if it is a single bed/chair studio.
Professional services: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base
• All activities allowed but an establishment’s occupancy should not be higher than 25 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to be less than 30 minutes, with face to face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• All construction, including those activities for which social distancing may not be maintained and the start of new construction projects, is authorized to resume.
Phase 1.5 also allows all outdoor recreation permitted in Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan and opens indoor fitness studios for one-on-one activities.
On May 29, Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health established an approach to reopen Washington and modify social and recreational activities while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.
Washington will move through the phased ‘Safe Start’ reopening county-by-county, allowing for flexibility and local control to address virus activity geographically. Two weeks are required between phases and the county requests to move must be approved by the Washington State Secretary of Health.
“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease. The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all,” said Executive Constantine. “By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”
Clark, Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties were approved to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. King County was approved to move into a modified version of Phase 1. Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties are approved to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.
Statewide now, five counties are in Phase 1, one county is in a modified version of Phase 1, 26 counties are in Phase 2 and seven counties are in Phase 3.