King County’s COVID-19 Phase 2 Reality: masked up and low business occupancy

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.

Governor Inslee at May 12th press conference

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.

Comments

  1. Kevin D Stone says

    Anyone else feel a little unsettled about the visitor log with contact information requirement? Seems like a massive privacy breach waiting to happen. The swiss backed off off this idea pretty quickly for the same reason.
    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/swiss-plan-to-ask-diners-for-contact-information-dropped-over-privacy-concerns

  2. Good thing I don’t have a phone or email address so I can dine out without my 4th, 5th, and 14th amendment rights being violated.

    • Harry Verderci says

      no one is violating your rights – you can order take out, delivery or just eat at home. No one is FORCING you to go dine in at a restaurant. Get over it

      • An agency of government requires a warrant, which is issued on a case by case basis by a judge, requiring probable cause, to collect such information about an individual. Doing it without a warrant is a violation of, at minimum the 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments as it lacks due process, is unreasonable search and seizure, and if you are refused service for not providing such information, that’s also being denied liberty as it is happening at the behest of government.

        • Yes your entitled to liberty in public places or public domain. As soon as you step in the doorway of a restaurant it’s private property, which you chose to enter. It’s a policy of the place of service. “Like no shoes shirt no service” That was handed down by the local government.

          • kevin Stone says

            “That was handed down by the local government” Aye and therein lies the rub, If the restaurant itself decides that it want to collect this information as a condition of serving you then that is entirely within their prerogative to do so. They would of course suffer the negative economic effects of such a policy as their customers that valued their privacy decided to go elsewhere. This is an entirely different situation as it is being forced upon the restaurants and their patrons by Inslee. No restaurant owner wants this and expect that the whole thing gets tested in the courts and swiftly thrown out as a clear violation of the 4th 5th and 14th amendments.

  3. I feel that having disposable menus is a bit much , since most restaurants have them in vinyl covers that can be sanitized after every use just as easy as condiment bottles can.

  4. Jennifer says

    More privacy violations. And note the increase in government jobs tracking the people whose rights are being trampled.

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