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Five Eastern Washington Counties Allowed To Skip Ahead In Reopening


Washington Governor Jay Inslee delivered some good news this afternoon [Friday] to five counties in eastern Washington.

“Today, Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variances for five counties: Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Ferry, Garfield and Columbia. Others are now getting a little bit further reviews: Skamania, Kittitas and Wahkiakum.”

They are among the 10 counties deemed ready to move directly to the second phase on the state’s four-phase process for restarting business and economies. One county not on that list, Stevens, also applied, but wasn’t granted a variance because it’s not scheduled to officially qualify until Monday.

Matt Schanz said he was pleasantly surprised that the state acted so quickly on the counties’ request. Schanz is the administrator for the Tri-County Health District, which serves Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties. He submitted the variance application only two or three days ago. He credited his staff, county commissioners, hospital officials, businesspeople and others who gathered information so that the counties could quickly apply for the state’s approval.

Schanz cautioned that some businesses can reopen immediately. Others, he says, even those allowed to reopen in phase two, may have to wait a few days until the state issues specific guidelines for reopening for their industry.

The governor also announced Friday that protocols have been issued for landscaping businesses and companies that want to offer curbside retail services.