Phase One of reopening Washington economy underway

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Downtown Seattle

This story was originally published by KING5 on Monday, May 4.


Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is in effect until May 31, but starting Tuesday, Phase 1 of “Safe Start Washington” paves the way for some businesses to reopen with restrictions.

In Phase 1, places like golf courses can begin operations again with a social distancing plan in place. For example, golf courses are only allowing two players per group unless you are all from the same household.

George Harris, the president and CEO of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, said as the weather gets warmer, more people will want to get outside.


Credit: Washington State Governor’s Office
Washington state’s four-phase plan for reopening from the stay home order

“There’s a lot of pent up demand for people to get out on the water,” said Harris. “There are some guidelines that I expect boaters and anglers to be very mindful of, and that is social distancing is very, very important.”

In recent weeks, there have been protests with people demanding businesses to reopen.

Jon Scholes, the president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, said based on regional data, an estimated 57,000 jobs have been lost downtown since March 1. Scholes is hearing from business owners anxious to reopen.

“I think the phased approach is smart and prudent. I would like to see more detail around how we can get restaurants open sooner,” said Scholes. “Can we get very clear guidelines and be very specific about the requirements around PPE and around social distancing in locations that ensures a safe and healthy environment for workers and customers?”

On Monday, the Governor’s office released ‘Safe Start Washington: A Phased Approach to Recovery,’ which has a list of requirements for employers.

Phase 1 includes existing construction that meets the state’s criteria, landscaping, auto dealerships, retail stores with curbside pickup only, car washes, and pet walkers.

Under Inslee’s plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide, according to a news release.

“This phased approach to re-opening our economy will allow us to move forward with a careful and thoughtful balance of our state’s health and economic needs,” Inslee said. “However, if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives.”

“I fully recognize the impact this is having on families, workers, and businesses, but we have not yet won the fight against this virus,” Inslee continued. “We continue to see infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths across the state from COVID-19.”

A long list of Washington state parks will reopen on Tuesday as well.

Phase 2 could start June 1, allowing businesses like hair salons and restaurants to reopen with restrictions.