LOCAL NEWS

Gov. Inslee: Washington state on track for full reopening by June 30

May 13, 2021, 2:44 PM | Updated: 3:50 pm
Gov. Inslee announces on May 13 that the state is on track to fully open by June 30. (TVW screensho...
Gov. Inslee announces on May 13 that the state is on track to fully open by June 30. (TVW screenshot)
(TVW screenshot)

That light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel appears to be getting much brighter. It was just a few weeks ago that Governor Inslee and state health officials warned the fourth wave of COVID-19 hitting our state could have a dire impact, especially with new variants becoming more dominant.

State DOH urges schools to reopen with full-time in-person learning by fall

Nearly two weeks ago it started to look like case rates were hitting a plateau, and now it seems they’re declining. Because of the progress the state has made, Gov. Inslee said Thursday that Washington is on track for a full reopening by June 30.

That full reopening could come even sooner, Inslee says, if 70% or more of Washington residents 16 and older have at least initiated their vaccination before then. Right now, the state health department says 57% percent of those 16 and older have initiated their vaccination, while nearly 44% are fully vaccinated.

Gov. Inslee says those numbers and current trends appear to put us at late June for a full reopening, but he’s hopeful more people will be encouraged to get vaccinated to allow the state to reopen sooner.

In the meantime, starting Tuesday, every county will have the opportunity to be in Phase 3, including those that had been rolled back and are currently in Phase 2.

“This does not change local decision making,” Inslee noted, clarifying that counties can still choose to remain in or move to Phase 2 if local officials feel that’s necessary.

Inslee says most indoor activities will remain at 50% capacity until June 30, at which time restaurants, bars, movie theatres and the vast majority of public spaces will be able to return to full capacity.

Gov. Inslee stresses that does not mean an end to the state of emergency on June 30 because the extraordinary emergency created by this pandemic continues, according to the governor, who says the virus is not done with us yet.

However, this does mark a shift in the state’s COVID-19 response as we move into a new chapter — away from restrictions to vaccinations.

The governor warned there is one metric that could delay this progress toward full reopening, and that is ICU capacity. Inslee says if the ICU capacity ever hit 90% statewide during the emergency, they will rollback activities again in order to save lives.

For now, the focus is on Phase 3 and increasing vaccination rates. To that end, Inslee says his team is looking what some other states have done to provide incentives to get vaccinated, including allowing additional activities with fewer restrictions and increasing capacity for groups of fully vaccinated people.

As the state looks for ways to entice people to vaccinate, Inslee did say that the Department of Commerce has teamed up with the Association of Washington Business to fund gift cards to local businesses for residents who are recently vaccinated. The Liquor & Cannabis Board is working on a request from wineries and breweries to allow them to “buy a glass or a pint” for vaccinated customers.

And starting with tonight’s home game, the Mariners will be giving away prizes to vaccinated fans at the games from partners like T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, Microsoft, Costco, Nordstrom and more.

Governor Inslee says they’ll also look at other ideas to entice people to get their vaccinations, which he says they consider a key piece of Washington’s economic recovery.

Additionally, spectator events, such as indoor and outdoor sports, will no longer have limits on the number of vaccinated attendees. Small cruise ships with less than 250 passengers can sail if the crew and 95% of the passengers are vaccinated. This will apply to conferences and live performances as well, and weddings and funeral receptions can be at full capacity as long as everyone is vaccinated.

That new guidance will be released as soon as it’s finished.

The state is reviewing Thursday’s announcement from the CDC regarding mask guidance, and Washington plans to update its own guidance to reflect that change. This new recommendation only applies to people who are fully vaccinated, which means it’s been two weeks since they received the last shot in the series.

“That shot is a ticket to freedom from masks,” Inslee said.

Individual businesses will still be allowed to require customers and employees to wear a mask if they choose to do so, and the guidance will not yet apply to long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools, or federal transportation.

“We are making tremendous progress in this pandemic thanks to Washingtonians’ collective work to save lives,” Inslee said.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

Local News

Climate Pledge Arena...
MyNorthwest Staff

Climate Pledge Arena set for grand opening, Seattle Kraken debut

Climate Pledge Arena will open its doors for the first time under its new name this week, with a pair of concerts and the Seattle Kraken's home debut.
10 hours ago
Gadsden flag...
Nick Bowman

Police watchdog to investigate photos of SPD vehicles adorned with Gadsden flags

The Office of Police Accountability is opening an investigation into photos circulated on social media of SPD vehicles adorned with Gadsden flags. 
10 hours ago
religious accommodation...
Nick Bowman

Washington State Patrol terminates 127 employees over vaccine mandate

Washington State Patrol has terminated 127 employees in the wake of the newly-implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect on Monday. 
10 hours ago
hospitals...
Nicole Jennings

More staff in hospitals reporting vaccination, but some losses still likely

Reports of vaccination are growing among staff of the state's hospitals, but there will likely still be cuts to services caused by staffing shortages.
1 day ago
school, vaccine...
Stephanie Klein

Seattle school district reports 99% COVID vaccine compliance

Seattle's school district says the "overwhelming majority" of its staff has shown proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
1 day ago
money, minimum wage...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle minimum wage will increase on Jan. 1

Minimum wage in Seattle, and across Washington state, will increase on Jan. 1, 2022. Large companies will pay their employees $17.27/hour.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Gov. Inslee: Washington state on track for full reopening by June 30