Clark County will move to Phase 2 of state’s reopening plan

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the regions progressing to Phase 2 will be able to do so starting Sunday, Feb. 14

Courtesy of the office of Gov. Jay Inslee

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that five new regions have met the metric requirements to progress to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan, starting this weekend.

The new regions progressing to Phase 2 are:

  • North (Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties)
  • North Central (Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas and Grant counties)
  • Northwest (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties)
  • East (Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, Whitman and Garfield counties)
  • Southwest (Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Skamania, Clark and Klickitat counties)

Clark County and the rest of the Southwest Region will move to Phase 2 of the state’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan – effective Sunday, Feb. 14. Originally, the regions were going to be allowed to move into Phase 2 starting Monday, Feb. 15, but after looking into it more, Inslee announced the five regions could go ahead and move into Phase 2 on Feb. 14, giving restaurants a chance to benefit from the Valentine’s Day holiday.

“I know this creates more options for restaurants to make Valentine’s Day special for couples who hoped they could have a night out,” Inslee said. “I am confident people, young and old, will celebrate safely. And if it’s a first date that doesn’t go well, remind them to stay six feet away from you.” 

The South Central region – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Yakima counties – is the only region that will remain in Phase 1.

The state will ease some COVID-19 restrictions throughout the Southwest Region, including rules on social gatherings, indoor dining and other activities. Everyone will still need to wear face coverings and physically distance in shared spaces.

In Phase 2, indoor social gatherings are limited to five people from up to two households, and outdoor social gatherings are limited to 15 people from up to two households. Indoor dining can resume at food establishments at no more than 25% capacity. Indoor fitness and recreation facilities and activities, such as gyms and indoor pools, are permitted with a maximum of 25% capacity.

Indoor entertainment, including theaters and bowling alleys, can reopen and operate at a maximum occupancy of 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. Indoor ceremonies and gatherings associated with weddings and funerals can resume, and outdoor sports, fitness and entertainment can operate with a maximum of 200 people.

Businesses and industries must follow the guidance for reopening outlined on the governor’s website.

The Southwest Region will remain in Phase 2 until at least Monday, March 1. To remain in Phase 2, the region must continue to meet at least three of four metrics set by the Washington State Department of Health. Regions that do not meet the metrics will be moved back to Phase 1. The state will update the metrics next on Friday, Feb. 26.

“The move to Phase 2 demonstrates that our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are working,” said Dr. Steven Krager, deputy health officer for Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum and Klickitat counties. “We must continue to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing and avoid social gatherings to ensure we remain in Phase 2.”

To remain in Phase 2, the region must meet at least three of these metrics:

•  Decreasing or flat trend in 14-day rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people

•  Decreasing or flat trend in 14-day rate new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people

•  Average 7-day ICU staffed bed occupancy less than 90%

•  7-day percent of positive COVID-19 tests less than 10%

The Washington State Department of Health provides “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” metrics on its data dashboard. Visit the governor’s website to learn more about the reopening plan.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.