SEATTLE — The criteria for regions in Washington state to move from Phase 1 to 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan is becoming less stringent, allowing for two regions to move to Phase 2 on Monday, Feb. 1.
Counties in the West and Puget Sound regions moved to Phase 2 on Monday. That includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in Puget Sound and Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Thurston counties in the West region.
These counties represent about half of the state's population, according to Gov. Jay Inslee.
In Phase 2, a maximum of five people from outside of a person's household can gather indoors and indoor dining is available at 25% capacity until 11 p.m., among other changes. Indoor fitness centers can also open at 25% capacity.
Under the revised plan, regions will be required to meet three of four health metrics to progress, instead of all four.
The changes follow conversations with public health leaders and the state's increasing vaccination rates.
The state was grouped into eight regions, all of which started in Phase 1 of reopening on Jan. 11. Under Inslee’s initial plan, there were only two phases, and the state planned to add more once the situation improved.
In Phase 1, indoor social gatherings are prohibited. Indoor worship services, retail stores, and professional and personal services are limited to 25% capacity. Indoor dining is prohibited, unless restaurants meet “open air” requirements, and outdoor dining is limited to six people per table or two households per table.
To move on to Phase 2, the region must meet the following three of four targets:
- 10% decreasing trend in case rates
- 10% decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
- ICU occupancy that’s less than 90%
- Test positivity rate that’s less than 10%
The Puget Sound and West regions both meet all metrics, except case trends, according to data from the Washington State Department of Health.
While the governor called the announcement good news, Washington Hospitality Association President and CEO Anthony Anton said the restrictions were never needed.
"The Governor’s announcement today is an acknowledgment that his plan to slow the spread of COVID didn’t work," Anton said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, his new plan isn’t any better: Half our state’s population will now be under a completely different set of restrictions than the other half. COVID doesn’t stop at county lines, and in the second year of a global pandemic, we know that drastic bimonthly shutdowns are not an effective way to control spread."
Anton said most states have allowed limited indoor dining.
"The Washington Hospitality Association stands ready to work with the Administration on an evidence-based plan to allow for safe, regulated indoor dining at 50 percent capacity today so we can reduce the spread of COVID," Anton said.