On Friday, King County announced a plan to reopen certain business activities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Under the new guidelines, restaurants could reopen outdoor seating areas at 50 percent of normal capacity. Indoor dining rooms would remain closed. The application has yet to be submitted and the plan has to be approved by the state so officially nothing has changed yet. Other requests for deviations from Washington state guidelines have taken at least a few days, so the process may be completed by next week.
The announcement comes shortly after Governor Jay Inslee announced that Washington’s current stay-at-home order will officially end on Sunday evening as originally planned. The state stay home order is being replaced with some changes to the current four-phase reopening plan, known as a “safe start,” which gradually removes restrictions on businesses, activities and gatherings and varies from county to county.
Inslee said that counties in phase one of the reopening plan, like King County, can now also request certain exemptions from the guidelines even if they don’t meet the exact criteria for phase two. The governor called this rule “Phase 1.5”. Other exceptions to King County’s new application are personal and professional services, which open at 25 percent of building occupancy, and the resumption of additional construction projects.
While there isn’t an exact date yet when restaurants in Seattle will be allowed to reopen for indoor dine-in service, that time seems to be getting closer, especially given the newly relaxed rules for alfresco dining.
While King County does not yet meet the state’s criteria for entry into Phase 2, we will apply to the state for a modified Phase 1 to allow for limited or modified openings for many business and personal activities.
Our latest update: https://t.co/B1rYb4CDVR pic.twitter.com/61smVsCSES
– King County, WA (@KingCountyWA) May 29, 2020
King County’s plan also appears to be following the trajectory of other states and cities, speeding up the reopening of the schedules. On Friday, Los Angeles announced the reopening of dining rooms after California Governor Gavin Newsome granted him a derogation.
King County is still in the first phase of Washington’s reopening plan, which originally only allowed takeout and delivery. It is only in the second phase that half-capacity restaurants can be reopened for dinner, provided they adhere to a number of additional guidelines, including eliminating seats in the bar, distributing one-way meals and logging guests’ personal information on a voluntary basis for the Contact tracking. In phase three, restaurants with a capacity of 75 percent and bars with 25 percent can reopen. In phase four, restaurants and bars can be fully reopened. Each phase should be at least three weeks apart in order to evaluate data on the spread of COVID-19.
However, Inslee made it clear that the districts will be a little more flexible in the first phase in the future. Originally, counties had to have a coronavirus infection rate of 10 per 100,000 people or less over a period of two weeks to even apply for promotion to the second phase. Now that benchmark is going to be 25 per 100,000 people. King County is close, with 28 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days, but still above that benchmark. It can also apply to deviations in the guidelines of the first phase, e.g. B. for the new rules for outdoor dining.
Another important part of the new order of the state is a directive on face masks. Beginning June 8, companies across the state must provide workers with face covers and wear them unless they have no face-to-face interactions. This policy reflects what King County has already put in place, although it’s worth noting that it is not a law. Inslee said he “didn’t want to harass the people who work in a bookstore.” He hoped for voluntary compliance with the guideline.