Local restaurant and retail shop owners, as well as King County residents, are now getting a glimpse at what future holds when Washington state enters phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s 4-phase economic reopening plan.
During a May 12th press conference Inslee said the earliest phase 2 could begin was June 1st and was dependent on testing and contact tracing.
During phase 2, in addition to expanding testing for those with symptoms, the governor said the state will train and use nearly 1,400 people – including National Guard (351), State/Local Health officials (630), and Dept. of Licensing employees (390) – to conduct contract tracing for positive COVID-19 cases.
According to Inslee, as state slowly reopens, the goal is to identify COVID-19 cases quickly. Those who develop symptoms are asked to immediately isolate and then seek testing. Test results would optimally be back in one to two days. Positive cases would isolate for 14 days while extensive contact tracing for exposures is completed. Those exposed would also be asked to isolate. The governor said the state plans to provide support for those isolated who many not have friends or family available to shop for them.
In phase 2 restaurants/taverns can open to dine-in customers at 50% capacity as long as safety precautions are followed that include:
- maintaining a 30-day daily log of all customers that includes telephone/email contact information and time dined in case contact tracing is neeed
- hand sanitizer for all employees and patrons (if supply is available
- no bar seating
- social distancing measures in place for food and drink pickup stations
- only parties of 5 or less
- no buffets or salad bars
- proper physical distancing measures for table spacing and lobbies
- single use menus and condiments, or condiment bottles must be sanitized after each use
- minimize amount of employees serving each table (highly recommend just one person per table)
- highly encourage patrons to wear masks when not at table eating
Governor Inslee said any information collected for contract tracing would not be shared and would only be available to public health officials if needed. Additionally, anyone contacted would not be told the name of the person who may have exposed them to COVID-19. He said this is the same protocol currently practiced by public health departments for other infectious disease exposure tracing/notifications.
The state plans to work with the restaurant industry to set up protocols for information collections. Inslee said businesses could face legal consequences for sharing collected data and suggested state auditing could be utilized to ensure adherence to privacy practices.
Meanwhile, this week King County issued a new Face Coverings Directive strongly urging residents to wear face covering in most public settings, including any indoor or outdoor public space where residents may be within six feet of someone who does not live with them.
The directive goes into effect May 18th. Face coverings include cloth masks, scarves and bandannas. Residents are asked to save medical masks for healthcare workers. There is no criminal, civil, or financial penalty for failing to wear a face covering, though.
Non-essential retail stores will also be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity in phase 2. Some of the safety precautions required to reopen include:
- extensive traffic management practices to maintain six-feet social distancing requirement
- arrange contactless pay options, pickup, and/or delivery of goods wherever possible.
- frequent sanitation of high touch areas like dressing rooms, carts, restrooms
- thorough sanitation of fitting rooms after each use
- any items tried on and not purchased removed from floor and stored away for 24 hours
Note: All Phase 1 COVID-19 safety and physical distancing protocols apply during other stages of Washington’s 4-Phase Reopening Plan.
In addition to safety procedures for patrons, all businesses operating during Phase 2 have a general obligation to keep a safe and healthy facility for employees in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices.