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Counties moving to Phase 2 reopen indoor dining in time for Valentine’s Day

A couple talks while dining out Nov. 26, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Gov. Inslee announced Thursday that the state will have five additional regions move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of reopening, effective Feb. 14. That means most counties will be able to offer limited indoor dining just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Gov. Inslee allows 22 counties to advance into Phase 2 of reopening

In Phase 2, restaurants are allowed to reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity.

The CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, Anthony Anton, says they’re excited about this change, and adds that Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for restaurants.

“Many [eatery owners] will be really excited to get Valentine’s Day,” he told KIRO Radio. “It’s typically one of our busiest days of the year.”

“And the great news for fighting COVID is usually you’re only sitting at the table with one other person,” he noted about Valentine’s Day diners. “And typically you already know that person without a mask.”

Anton said he believes dining out will be a safe experience for customers — all restaurants will be clean, and workers will be well-trained in safety protocols.

While 25% capacity is a positive step forward, Anton says the association remains committed to mapping a path to 50% indoor dining capacity with the governor.

Last region in Phase 2 looks for ‘glimmer of hope’ as it falls short of benchmarks

In a written statement, Anton said the move to Phase 2 is great news for public health and for the hospitality industry. He also expressed support for the six counties that remain in Phase 1.

“In the areas of our state that have reopened, we’ve seen cases continue to drop as gatherings have moved to regulated, safe establishments. Yet we know we have more work to do: We must allow safe gathering spaces in every area of the state,” he said.

“We want to express our support for the South Central region,” he continued. “They’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID shutdowns throughout the pandemic, and we know the businesses there are struggling. The communities have done fantastic work to drop their case counts over the past three weeks. We will work with the Governor to understand why the region isn’t joining the rest of the state in reopening and how we can work toward a positive solution.”

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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