Counties across Washington state will be included in a gradual reopening program on Monday, as Governor Jay Inslee's "stay home" order expires. Inslee announced new rules Friday, which will replace the shutdown order with a tiered approach to resuming Washington's economy.
The change will not have an immediate impact on Washington's most populous areas – King, Snohomish, and Pierce – but may allow communities to enter the second phase of reopening earlier than expected.
In order to enter phase 2, counties must have fewer than 25 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of 14 days. This number has been revised from 10 cases per 100,000. Health care resources and tests must also be available to track the virus. Each county must wait three weeks to monitor the number of cases before entering a new phase. There have been in the past two weeks 28 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population in King County, Home of Seattle.
Less populous areas in Washington with fewer COVID-19 cases are already in phase 2This allows for outdoor recreation in small groups, retail and care companies, and restaurants with restrictions. Districts in phase 1 have the option to request additional exemptions from restrictions if they can demonstrate that activities can be safely carried out. Inslee calls it "Phase 1.5".
"We are very happy to be able to give the counties more flexibility and we are confident that people will face this challenge," said Inslee.
Inslee also tightened the guidelines that Washington residents must wear facial coverings when physical distance is not possible. Under the new regulation, all workers will need to wear facewear from June 8, unless they have no personal contact. Employers must provide these covers to workers.