Gov. Inslee allows WA economy to partially restart

By: 
RaeLynn Ricarte
Editor, Statesman Examiner

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has moved the entire state into Phase 2 of his Roadmap to Recovery plan, which has allowed businesses to open at limited capacity and slightly larger social gatherings.

That has prompted local health officials to warn people that only by following safety guidelines to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus will they avoid another lockdown and see the economy fully reopen.

“That’s just really, really important,” said Matt Schanz, executive director of Northeast Tri County Health District during a Friday press briefing. “COVID has not disappeared from our region so it’s still very important that people wear masks, practice social distancing and limit gathering sizes.”

Last week, Inslee announced that five more regions of the state met criteria to move into Phase 2 of his plan to restart the economy. He later added the final South Central region to that list after a correction was made in its data that showed the same decline in COVID-19 cases.

Inslee had already opened up the Puget Sound and West regions, the areas with the highest population base, in January.

Stevens, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Adams, Asotin, Garfield, Lincoln, Whitman and Spokane counties make up the Eastern Region.

Schanz said Inslee changed the start of the new phase from Monday to Sunday so that eating and drinking establishments could benefit from Valentine’s Day traffic.

Under Phase 2, indoor recreation and fitness establishments may operate at 25% capacity. Low and moderate-risk sports competitions are permitted (no tournaments) at a maximum of 25% of fire code occupancy rating or 200 people, whichever is lower (includes spectators).

Restaurants and bars may now operate at 25% capacity with special operating guidelines in place.

Outdoor entertainment venues may now allow groups of 15, with a limit of two households per group, for a maximum of 200 people (including spectators).

Schanz said the prevention measures taken by area residents and businesses contributed to the decline and are working well enough to allow more movement in society.

Read the full story in the Feb. 17, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.

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