Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference Tuesday a new reopening plan set to begin once the dining and gathering restrictions imposed ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday end Jan. 11.
“We aren’t out of this yet, but we are close to turning the corner on COVID-19 and this third wave of infection,” Inslee said in a release.
The plan, “Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery,” entails that counties be grouped into eight distinct regions based on available health system resources. The Lewis, Thurston, Pacific, and Grays Harbor Counties comprise the “West” region, and Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties make up the “Puget Sound” region, for example. Like Inslee’s previously used Safe Start plan, this new approach is phased, but with fewer steps.
Starting Jan. 11, each region will be put into “Phase 1.” Per the “Healthy Washington” plan, a move to Phase 2 would require a region to have a less-than-10-percent test positivity rate, a 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospital admission rates, 10 percent decreasing case rates, and a 90 percent decrease in ICU occupancy.
Currently, none of the state’s eight regions as defined in the plan are meeting the criteria necessary to move into Phase 2. The state’s Department of Health will reexamine whether regions have yet met Phase 2 criteria every week, with data publicly updated every Friday.
“This makes sense not only from a public health perspective but from a health care delivery perspective,” Inslee said in the release.
Phase 1 of the new plan keeps most current COVID-19 restrictions intact, but there are a few notable changes.
Some limited fitness activities, like appointment-driven training for 45-minute sessions (with just one customer in a room or one customer per 500 square feet), will be allowed; zoos, concert venues, and other outdoor entertainment establishments will also be allowed to re-open, although masking, physical distancing, and timed ticketing will be required.
Indoor social gatherings remain prohibited. However, outdoor social gatherings during Phase 1 allows a maximum of 10 people from a different household. (No more than two households, though, can meet outdoors.)
“We’re not moving forward in a big way today,” Inslee said. “But we needed a new plan, and this takes us in the right direction.”
Click here for Inslee’s full statement.