Saying "one size does not fit all," the mayors of Bonney Lake and Sumner are urging Gov. Jay Inslee to allow businesses in their cities to reopen.
Located in east Pierce County, the two cities have a combined population of around 31,000. However, Pierce County remains in Phase 1 of the state's four-phase approach to reopening due to the total population.
In a letter to Inslee, Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson Jr. and Sumner Mayor Bill Pugh write businesses in the two cities can open "responsibly and safely" by following guidelines already in place by businesses that are already allowed to open. Small businesses in the cities are "anxiously waiting for the green light."
"We all are finding the lack of consistency between which business are opened vs closed frustrating and inequitable," they wrote.
"For example, small boutiques can be safe, if not safer, than a Costco or Fred Meyer that sells clothing, home goods, and other items besides food," they wrote.
The mayors propose:
- Open businesses immediately that can comply with the health and safety requirements required of their industry that are already open. Allow the business owner to decide if they can and are ready to safely open.
- Continue to encourage people to follow safety protocols, including social distancing and wearing a face mask or covering when around others, and staying home when not feeling well.
- Encourage seniors and other at-risk members of the community to stay home.
Nicole Wilsey, owner of Sparrow and Nightingale's, a home decor and gifts boutique in downtown Sumner, said she was glad to see the mayors try to help small businesses.
"Small business, we're taking the biggest hit of anybody," Wilsey said. "For the mayors to go to bat for us is phenomenal."
Mayor Johnson, of Bonney Lake, said he has also heard from other small business owners.
"I've got a lot of feedback on that letter that a lot of folks are just happy that cities are fighting for their local economy," Johnson said.
Pugh said that he would like to see the mayors in Pierce County work together.
"I respect Governor Inslee and all that he is doing to try to navigate us through this," said Sumner mayor Bill Pugh's statement. " I’d like to see [mayors in Pierce County] working more cohesively to ask the difficult questions and find some common ground to support Governor Inslee and help our businesses and our residents survive."
The governor's spokesperson Mike Faulk said that for now, any exceptions to the state's four-phased reopening plan will be considered by county, and not by city.
"At this time we are considering county variances only. As with any communications we get from counties and cities, we will respond to them directly with more information on why we think this is important to protect public health."