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Washington restaurants could partially reopen by June 1 under Phase 2 recovery plan

Governor Inslee has outlined a four-phase approach to reopening Washington. Phase 2 could begin on June 1.

SEATTLE — Governor Inslee has outlined a four-phase approach to reopening Washington. Included in the plan is when restaurant dining rooms could welcome customers back. 

Restaurants and taverns are referenced in Phase 2 of the plan, which calls for dining rooms with less than 50% of capacity, tables with no more than five people, and no bar area seating.

Charlie Anthe, co-owner of Moshi Moshi Sushi & Izakaya, says the most important thing is understanding what's expected so they can get ready.

"To be honest, we don't know how it's going to work. And I think for everybody, we're figuring it out as we go," Anthe said.

Monday, Dr. John Wiesman, the state's Secretary of Health, talked about the phased approach.

"We are anticipating that Phase 2 could start on June 1, and we'll be looking at the data during the month to make sure we are on track for that to be able to happen," said Secretary Wiesman.

Anthe says he is following the guidelines from the Department of Health and the CDC around frequent hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing.

The state will require a reduced capacity at first, and Linda Di Lello Morton, co-owner of Terra Plata, says that won't be profitable.

"Definitely not. I think even 25% capacity reduction isn't profitable for restaurants," said Di Lello Morton.

At Terra Plata, they are planning to take plenty of precautions.

"I think having guests in masks, making sure that they have masks available to them, and washing hands when they arrive at the restaurant before they're seated, having hand sanitizer on all of our tables," Di Lello Morton said.  

Ivar's President Bob Donegan says they will be making significant changes too.

"We will no longer use permanent menus. Everything will be done on paper sheets that, after you have ordered, will get recycled," said Donegan. 

"We've been active through the Washington Hospitality Association during the negotiations with the Governor's staff on the rules for reopening restaurants, and we fully buy into those rules," Donegan continued.

Anthe said, "the worst thing we could do would be to open and then have to shut everything back down again." 

Anthe doesn't want to rush reopening. His focus is on getting it right.

When it comes to the phased approach, Governor Inslee says if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, he won't hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health. 

Washington Hospitality Association CEO Anthony Anton put together a list of six things restaurateurs can do now as they prepare to reopen in Phase II. 

Six Things Restaurants Can Do Now To Prepare for Phase II:

  1. Decide how to adjust business plans for 50 percent licensed capacity
  2. Move tables a minimum of 6 feet apart
  3. Create guest social distancing management plans for the lobby
  4. Plan for health self-screenings for employees
  5. Create an outstanding handwashing program
  6. Decide how to source and use face masks