Businesses Ask Washington Legislature For Permission To Re-open

Jan 20, 2021

Eddie Williams from Spokane's Lilac Lanes testified Wednesday for a bill that would allow some businesses to reopen at 25% capacity.
Credit TVW screenshot

A Washington legislative committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would allow businesses shuttered by the pandemic to partially reopen.

More than 1,600 people signed up to weign in on legislation that takes aim at Governor Inslee’s latest re-opening plan.

It would mandate moving the entire state from Phase One to Phase Two restrictions. That would allow many venues to serve customers indoors at 25% capacity.

Testimony before the Senate State Government & Elections Committee was held online. More than 16-hundred signed up to speak. Not all were heard, because of time restrictions. One of those was Blair McHaney, the president of the Washington Fitness Alliance.

“We keep hearing that closing of health clubs is being categorized as high risk by the Infectious Disease Society of America, yet this does not recognize their light speed learning, their efforts and investments to mitigate risk. Data from every state tracking outbreaks, including our own, show zero outbreaks from fitness or less than one half of one percent. Fitness is part of the solution, and we fill strongly all businesses can operate safely at 25 percent capacity," McHaney said.

Health officials, such as Lacy Fehrenbach from the Washington Department of Health, testified against the measure, stressing the need to not flood area hospitals with Covid patients.

"With cases rising, we do not believe the state is ready to move forward, the bill goes too fast, without any health data to support such a movement., and does not put out a transparent process for how we would balance the risk of covid disease on our residents, with the reopening our economy and schools of our state," she said.

The bill would also give the legislature, not the governor, responsibility for designing additional phases of re-opening and determining when the state advances or regresses between phases.