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Pierce County business urges public to take pandemic seriously after Phase 2 rollback

Three counties in Washington were forced to tighten coronavirus restrictions due to rising case and hospitalization rates.

FIFE, Wash. — Pierce County was one of three counties to move back Friday into Phase 2 of the governor’s "Healthy Washington" plan for reopening. 

Pierce, Whitman and Cowlitz counties will change indoor capacities in businesses like restaurants and gyms back to 25%, down from 50% where they had been able to operate for the last several weeks.

It’s a blow to restaurants like the Poodle Dog in Fife where the manager said he's worried. 

“I feel scared for a lot of local businesses,” Jim Reedy said. “It's going to affect us, too. We're lucky to have a restaurant as large as we have where we can accommodate more people.”

RELATED: Pierce County executive, Inslee disagree over COVID-19 vaccine supply demands

The Poodle Dog has laid off a large number of employees, and they’ve taken a big financial hit. The manager said without the support of regular customers, he isn’t sure how they would have survived.

“I just hope that people take this pandemic a little more seriously, and we can get past this and get back to normal life,” Reedy said.

“We know that a lot of our businesses have struggled through the winter when we had these restrictions before,” said Derek Young, Pierce County Council chair. “For those that were able to hang on and stay in business and keep people at work, it was difficult. So to go back is demoralizing.”

Young said Pierce County is committed to working with the business community as closely as possible to keep things going through this rollback, which includes providing grants to small and independent businesses.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced counties must fail two metrics, case rate over two weeks and hospitalization rate over one week, to be moved back one phase. The change makes it easier for counties to remain in their current phase. 

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department says cases have been on the rise since March. 

“The idea is that if we aren’t meeting the two metrics to stay in Phase 3, we need to bring down the level of gatherings to minimize the spread of COVID,” said Cindan Gizzi, Deputy Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

The next evaluation will be on May 3.

RELATED: Inslee urges gatherings to be held outdoors to quell rising COVID-19 cases