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Tacoma business hopes for big boost as Pierce County moves to Phase 3

All counties in Washington are now in Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan, which allows for 50% occupancy at businesses.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tuesday is the day four counties in Washington will have the opportunity to move forward to Phase 3 of reopening.

Those include Pierce, Cowlitz, Ferry and Whitman counties, which all rolled back last month after recording high COVID-19 case rates.

Under Phase 3, indoor businesses can now operate at 50% capacity as opposed to 25% under Phase 2. The move comes after vaccine eligibility expanded to teens.

The move to Phase 3 is giving some business owners reason to celebrate as they look to start the recovery process due to the pandemic.

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Jessie Ferrer, the owner of Baroque Salon in Tacoma, says it's a sign of progress after she saw a 60% to 70% decrease in business last year. 

Phase 1 brought business back up by 20%, and Phase 2 another 20%, but being stuck between Phase 2 and Phase 3 has made the last month difficult to move forward. That's because about 20% of her business comes from walk-ins, and with fewer people out and at restaurants, that has meant less foot traffic coming through her door. 

While Phase 3 still means a 50% capacity limit, Ferrer is hopeful that it will bring in more employees and appointments.

"Phase 3 means opportunity," Ferrer said. "That is fantastic. We are super excited. It means more exposure from the outside. All the amazing restaurants are going to be open a little bit more and available for business, and people are going to be out here, and this one's going to get more exposure."

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The salon owner and stylist says while in Phase 3 her bottom line could see a boost, she has no intention of letting her guard down until more people are vaccinated.

"It's up to all of us to do our part so we can continue to help these businesses come back," Ferrer added.

In the meantime, Ferrer says she plans to keep the plexiglass, the hand sanitizer and the mask requirement in place for at least the near future.