Eastern Washington to move to Phase 2 of re-opening
The door has opened a little wider for Spokane and eastern Washington counties as they emerge from the pandemic.
Governor Jay Inslee announced during a press conference Thursday that the East region of the state, which includes Spokane and eight other counties have met the metrics to move to Phase 2. The criteria the region had to meet included a flat or declining hospitalization, positivity and new cases rate.
Every region except the South Central portion of the state has met the criteria to move forward. The transition to the next phase will be effective on Monday.
Under Phase 2 guidelines restaurants with indoor dining, fitness and entertainment businesses can open at 25% capacity with some limitations.
Small indoor gatherings of 5 people are allowed with a limit of two households, and small outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people from two households are allowed.
Spokane’s Mayor Nadine Woodward released a statement celebrating the region’s advancement into the next phase. She called it the first step in the community’s road to recovery. She also reminded the region to continue to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and limiting gatherings.
"Today is really about the community and the commitment our region has made to putting public health first," Woodward said. "Our region has done a tremendous amount of selfless work to put us in a position to advance. That includes many, many businesses that have struggled, sacrificed, and carefully followed the public health guidance for the benefit of others."
Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns also released a statement on re-opening, saying the loosening of restrictions was good news, but said more information is needed on the next phase of Inslee's plan.
"While entering into Phase 2 is positive news, we must allow our citizens to return to work and combat the mental health impacts of this shutdown by letting our struggling small businesses safely reopen at a quicker pace," Kerns said. "We can do this while also remaining diligent in keeping our COVID-19 numbers down. I call on Governor Inslee to release details of the next phase for his “Healthy Washington Plan” immediately so that we can safely reopen more of Washington’s economy.”
County Commissioner Al French also released a statement, thanking the community for following the metrics established by the state, and urging people to continue getting vaccinated.