Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday a plan that will eventually allow businesses like restaurants to open back up once the state gets a better handle on the coronavirus pandemic.
The Healthy Washington plan breaks the state into regions that are tied together by health care systems and uses metrics to determine when the counties in designated regions can begin to open.
Each region will need to meet four metrics, which include a 10% decreasing trend in case rates; a 10% decrease in COVID-19 hospital administration rates; an ICU occupancy rate that’s less than 90%; and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.
King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are in the same region.
In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Inslee put in place restrictions shutting down restaurants, theaters, gyms and all indoor gatherings on Nov. 15. The restrictions were set to end in mid-December and were most recently extended Dec. 30 through Jan. 11.
When Inslee ordered the restrictions in November, the state was dealing with rapidly increasing COVID-19 infections heading into Thanksgiving. Cases of the disease peaked in early December while hospitalizations continued to rise through the end of the year.
The restrictions had bars and restaurants shut down indoor service and limit outdoor service to parties of five or fewer. Indoor gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums also had to shut down.
Protests have sprung up across the state in response to the restrictions. On Sunday, a number of restaurants served patrons indoors in what was dubbed a “Day of Defiance.”
Brock’s Bar & Grill in the Cowlitz County town of Woodland was one of the restaurants involved. Owner Polly Merwin told The Seattle Times she needs to remain open for her business to survive.
“We the people have to take a stand. Small business can’t survive,” Merwin said.
Indoor gatherings with people outside your household were prohibited unless participants have quarantined for at least a week and tested negative for the virus. Funerals and weddings are limited at 30 people and receptions following the ceremonies are not allowed.
Long-term care facilities can accept visitors only outdoors, with limited exceptions for end-of-life care and essential support personnel.
The restrictions didn’t apply to day care centers, schools and construction and manufacturing businesses and grocery and retail stores are capped at 25% of capacity.
Personal services, such as barber shops and salons, are limited to 25% capacity.
Real-estate open houses are prohibited. Youth and adult sports are limited to outdoor-only intrateam practices and athletes must wear masks.
College and professional sports are allowed to continue. Inslee previously cited the “rigorous protocols” they have put in place for allowing them to continue.