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New WA bill would expedite reopening process, and get senators on record

Seattle area businesses have been hit hard by coronavirus. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Washington state legislative session recently began, and one of the most important issues is restarting the economy and reopening the state. There is one bill hoping to further that along, by moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 under the Healthy Washington plan from Governor Inslee, and effectively putting every senator on record with regards to the reopening process.

One of the supporters of this bill is state Senator Mark Mullet, a Democrat from Issaquah, who joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss.

“The hope was when sessions started … that the business closures would be done. They’re obviously not done. The plan that was laid out last week was the idea of everyone staying in Phase 1 and then through certain metrics, getting to Phase 2. And the bill just kind of turns that idea around saying we’re gonna put everyone in Phase 2, but acknowledge that if a certain region goes backwards and has an explosion in cases, the Legislature would move them back to Phase 1,” he said.

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“But we’re hoping the incentive is for people to make smart decisions so that doesn’t happen,” Mullet added. “It would definitely get these businesses who’ve been shut down now for almost two months — going back to a week before Thanksgiving — so they can operate safely again.”

As Jason noted, Phase 2 would not mean a total reopening of the economy for restaurants and gyms, for example, but would be going to 25% capacity under limited operation. For Mullet, this would at least be better for businesses in the meantime, especially for restaurants during the winter time when outdoor dining is difficult.

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“You have to have a very powerful heating system to make outdoor dining work in Washington in January,” he said. “… You owe it to the people of Washington. If the Legislature wants to keep your businesses closed, so be it. Let’s have a vote so everyone knows where we once stood on the issue, and to me, that’s only fair.”

“We’re not saying that COVID’s not real, we’re not saying people shouldn’t be wearing masks,” he continued. “We’re just saying we can open these businesses with masks and lower capacity constraints in a way that we think is safe. And we should be doing that right away, not having this indefinite delay, because right now there’s really no point on the horizon these business owners can even plan, or their workers can plan, of when they’re going back to work.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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