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Washington transitions to ‘new normal’ as all counties can be in Phase 3

A digital highway sign promotes COVID-19 vaccination on May 14, 2021, in Vancouver, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Starting May 18, all Washington counties are eligible to be in Phase 3 of reopening, which means, among other things, 50% indoor capacity for restaurants and retail. The governor has announced June 30 as the state’s full reopening date, but it could come sooner if the vaccination initiation rate gets to 70%.

Some counties still seeing rise in COVID rates despite whole state moving to Phase 3

Over the weekend, host Ursula Reutin and her husband went to the Washington coast. She shared that she had the chance to interview a couple of people while she was visiting, including Randy Dixon and his wife, who are the owners of Granny Hazel’s Candy and Gifts in the town of Westport. They had to shut down for nearly three months during the pandemic.

“It was like a ghost town,” Dixon said. “There wasn’t a car on the street. Our car was the only one in the marina. It was just, you know, if you drove in, you’d have thought that the town had closed and everybody went home.”

“We’re used to seeing happy kids come into the store, having fun, and just to see them on the outside, and it was like we were separated by this wall of glass where you couldn’t talk to them, you couldn’t see them,” Dixon added. “And then all of a sudden, you know like, OK, we can reopen, so we just brought in all this stuff to make it safe, reopened, but it was something I hope I never have to live through again.”

Over the weekend, Dixon said it almost felt like pre-pandemic times, and Ursula agreed.

“I think this is good news for all of us going forward because we are going forward, Ursula, into our new normal,” host Gee Scott said. “We talked about this for some time. We talked about what it was going to be like with our new normal and that’s where we’re heading to, into our new normal, right?”

Ursula says there were still people wearing masks, including herself in the more crowded areas, even though she is fully vaccinated.

“I am vaccinated but I also figured that there were people who don’t know for sure, … the people I was talking to,” she said. “So I interviewed them and … they were telling me, I hope that people get vaccinated because I want us to have more things like this, et cetera.”

“Yesterday was one of the happiest days in the past year for me,” Ursula added. “It really was one of the happiest days — the sunshine, the perfect weather, hugging more people, seeing more people out, seeing more people happy, people talking about positive things in the future. It really just felt like I realized that I’ve been living in a kind of a cloudy state of mind, and yesterday, literally and figuratively, felt like one of the sunniest days for me in the past year.”

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“I noticed that people are really happy, were really happy this weekend,” Gee agreed, adding that he also noticed that places were more busy, which he says was great to see.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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