Five counties allowed to proceed to Inslee’s Phase Two

by Cameron Sheppard
| May 10, 2020 7:09 PM

OLYMPIA — A handful of kinds of businesses and activities, including landscaping, elective surgeries, vehicle and vessel sales, car washes, pet walkers and curbside retail will be allowed to reopen, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday.

Inslee said these businesses will be allowed to resume after working with business leaders and workers to develop industry-specific guidelines to ensure both customer and worker safety.

Businesses that fall under the categories permitted to reopen will be able to do so as soon as they are able to comply with the safety guidelines released by the governor’s office, according to Nick Streuli, external relations director for the governor.

Five counties have also been approved to move into the second phase of Inslee’s transition plan before the rest of the state. Inslee said this is due to the relatively low volume of COVID-19 activity in the counties: Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille.

The governor’s chief of staff, David Postman, said earlier this week that the governor’s office is developing safety guidelines for business to reopen in those counties.

Inslee said the steps that have been taken toward resuming regular business and activity are possible because of the progress Washingtonians have made in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. He argued that the state is in one of the most pivotal points in the fight against the virus, as “early victories” could lead people to ease up and reduce precautionary actions.

Inslee said if Washingtonians abandon social distancing efforts now, it could lead to a spring back to the number of infections and hospitalizations seen in mid-March, near the peak of the outbreak in Washington.

The governor and public health officials have emphasized that increased testing for the virus will be a necessity to quickly identify and isolate those who are infected as people go back to work and school.

The federal government has delivered testing supplies in high demand to the state in the last couple of weeks. Inslee said he expects the federal government to begin delivering weekly shipments of hundreds of thousands of testing materials in the near future.