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Hospitality, business community reacts to Gov. Inslee’s reopening date

An outdoor dining set-up during the COVID-19 pandemic in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)

Gov. Inslee said Thursday that Washington is on track for a full reopening by June 30. That date could come even sooner, the governor says, if 70% or more of Washington residents age 16 or older have at least initiated their vaccination before then.

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Business owners across the state reacted to the reopening announcement Thursday, with most calling it good news as the state now has a set plan in place.

Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business, offered the following statement:

This is good news for Washington employers after a year of challenges and setbacks. We hope this truly marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic and that we can begin the hard work of rebuilding Washington’s economy.

Vaccines have played a critical role in getting us to this point, and we know that continued vaccination is key to bringing the virus under control, getting people back to work and returning our daily lives to something resembling normal.

Gov. Inslee highlighted the important function chambers of commerce can play in this effort, and AWB is committed to working with local chambers to help vaccinate as many people as possible. Chambers of commerce are integral institutions in many communities, connecting small businesses with each other and with their neighbors. They are ideal partners in the effort to expand access and awareness to vaccines.

Bill Weise, president of the Seattle Hotel Association, says Seattle hotels have been hit harder than any West Coast city. Read Weise’s statement:

The pandemic has hit Seattle’s hotels harder than hotels in any other West Coast city, so today’s news of a plan for a full reopening of the State brings the promise of a robust recovery on the horizon. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we want to celebrate today and how we’ve worked together over the past 14 months to get to a point in which we can reopen the State safely.

The following statement is from Steve Hooper, president of the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, on today’s announcement:

The Seattle Restaurant Alliance is grateful to have a clearly defined path to fully reopening. We have worked together over these past 14 months, and I’m proud of how the industry has met the incredible challenges with genuine hospitality and warmth. We are thankful to our city for supporting our diverse restaurants, and look forward to working together to fully reopen and recover.

Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association, had been pushing for the governor to reopen the state on June 15. He released the following statement in response to the reopening date at the end of June:

Today, we are excited to see a clear path forward. And we are so thankful to the nearly 20,000 Washingtonians who have joined us over the last week in our petition to the governor for a reopening plan. This is a moment we’ve all been working toward for 14 months, as we’ve stayed home, worn masks, and physically distanced from our friends and loved ones. Now, we can all rally around a common goal: If we work together, we could reopen within a few weeks. We stand ready as a united industry to help our state achieve this critical goal and then keep working together to recover.

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