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King, Pierce and Snohomish counties make push on reopening plans

The Puget Sound Metro counties are pushing forward in the 'Safe Start Washington' reopening plan, but not as quickly as the state's less populous counties.

SEATTLE — When taken together, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties account for upward of 4 million people in Washington state, more than half the state population.

Those three counties are also lagging much of the state in getting permission from to step up to the next level of reopening —  what’s called Phase 2.

Phase 2 is a big step forward in easing the restrictions that had been put into place to slow the spread of coronavirus.

A few examples: 

  • Non-essential in store retail purchases allowed with limits. 
  • Hair and nail salons as well as barbers could reopen with restrictions.
  • Restaurants could serve people in their dining rooms, with less than 50% capacity. 
  • Camping and other outdoor recreation with fewer than five people outside your household. 

It is still a long way from Phase 4, which is pretty much back to normal but while maintaining social distancing. Phase 4 but would allow even large sporting events.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somer’s  office says the county is hopeful it will get the go ahead to move to Phase 2 any time.

Pierce County just sent its application into the state on Tuesday. That county's approval could take longer, said Dr. Ken Farmer, MD, the director of the Pierce County Office of Disaster Recovery under county Executive Bruce Dammeier.

“We believe it’s the intent of the state Department of Health and the secretary to respond to these very quickly. I can’t predict exactly when we will hear," Farmer said. 

Dr. Farmer also says the county has acquired 2 million masks, non-contact thermometers, gloves and PPE to help businesses get started.

King County today announced it wants to upgrade its application to a modified stage 1, but much of what it’s asking for, including outdoor restaurant seating at 50%, seem to be among Phase 2 lines. 

King County's plan would allow limited and modified openings for businesses while the county is still in Phase 1 of the state’s “Safe Start” plan. 

The submitted application includes recommendations from King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin that would allow restaurants to begin opening indoor seating at 25% capacity, hair stylists and other personal services to open at 25% capacity, expand opening indoor fitness studios for one-on-one activities, and would allow outdoor recreation permitted in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

“Our plan to safely reopen our region’s economy is based on the latest data, recommendations by Public Health experts, and insight from communities and businesses,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are ready to take the next careful step toward an equitable recovery that benefits everyone who calls King County home.”

The modified Phase 1 plan would allow outdoor gatherings with five or fewer people outside the household.

A decision from the state is expected within the next several days.

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