Gov. Inslee allows more counties to apply for Phase 2 reopening
In a Tuesday press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he will be loosening the requirements for counties looking to enter into Phase 2 of reopening.
As of Tuesday, 10 counties have been approved for a Phase 2 variance, based on their population and the lower prevalence of new COVID-19 cases. Inslee’s new criteria makes it so an additional 10 counties are now eligible as well.
Under the new regulations, counties can now apply for a variance if they have fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week span. Those standards are consistent with the CDC’s own guidelines.
The 10 counties that have already received approval to enter into Phase 2 early include: Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Whitman, Lincoln, Columbia, Garfield, Skamania, Wahkiakum, and Asotin counties.
Counties now eligible to apply under the expanded criteria include: Spokane, Adams, Mason, Thurston, Lewis, Clark, Clallam, Kitsap, Island, and San Juan counties.
Inslee hopes this will provide these counties with “more economic opportunity, while still providing protections we need for our citizens.” That being so, he warned residents in other parts of Washington to avoid traveling to take advantage of restaurants, barbershops, and more that are allowed to reopen in Phase 2.
“As we open up some of our counties, it really is important for people not to overload those smaller communities in their restaurants and otherwise,” Inslee noted. “It’s really a time to remain close to home.”
“We have flattened the curve, but this continues to haunt us and affect our communities,” he added. “I hope people do enjoy one part joy and celebration, and two parts responsibility.”
Gov. Inslee also announced Tuesday that the state will soon be distributing $10 million in small business grants. That money will be dispersed across 501 recipients in 20 counties, including retail, restaurants, construction, hospitality, hair salons, fitness studios, and theaters.