Following approval by state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, King County has officially entered Phase 2 on Friday, June 19, of the state’s Safe Start recovery plan to allow limited business re-opening.
Phase 2 allows for twice the capacity in retail, restaurants, and other businesses previously allowed in King County’s modified Phase 1 and goes into effect immediately, according to a news release from King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“Moving to Phase 2 is another step toward economic recovery for our region, but it must go hand-in-hand with even more careful adherence to precautions from our public health experts,” Constantine said. “Wearing face coverings, washing hands, and avoiding crowds and unnecessary contact can help make ours a one-way trip back to prosperity, and prevent the need to go back to stay-at-home orders.”
While there are no additional categories of businesses included in moving from modified Phase 1 to Phase 2, the operating capacity has doubled for those able to reopen. For example, restaurants can now operate with 50% of indoor capacity, and retail with 30% capacity. Businesses with questions on how to safely reopen under the state’s guidance are encouraged to call Public Health’s Business Compliance Line at 206-296-1608.
“We evaluated a number of factors to apply to move to phase two of reopening,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Our healthcare system, perhaps the single most important factor, is currently well-prepared to care for COVID-19 cases as well as the other health needs of our community.”
Public Health officials recommend that people keep 6 feet apart from one another whenever possible. Outdoors exposures are less risky than indoors, and improving indoor ventilation is recommended. In addition, people need to wear face coverings in public, wash hands frequently, and get tested at the first sign of symptoms.
“Our cases have declined significantly since the peak of the outbreak in late March, and are now hovering around our target goal,”Duchin said. “Over the past seven days, however, we have seen an uptick in the number of cases compared to the previous week. With re-opening, we anticipated more cases in the community. That is why it is now more important than ever keep 6 feet apart from one another whenever possible and minimize unnecessary activity, especially people at increased risk for COVID-19.”
“As we move into phase 2 and for the foreseeable future, our risk will be increasing, not decreasing,” Duchin said. “COVID-19 has not gone away and we must take the ongoing risk very seriously. If we are going to be successful continuing to reopen, it’s essential that we do everything we can to prevent COVID-19 spread as we have more contact in social, recreational and work-related settings.”
Phase 2 activities permitted by the state include the following:
Activities allowed: All card rooms or similar activities.
Limitations: All card rooms are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts the card room designated area to the lesser of 25% capacity or 50 individuals. The restaurants or taverns area of the facility is required to follow the Phase 2 guidance, which restricts capacity to 50% and prohibits bar service. Games are also limited to 25% occupancy per table. Limitations on capacity does not include staff.
Activities allowed: All construction, including new work and where social distancing may not be maintained.
Limitations: All construction activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: Any worker (hourly, salaried, independent contractor, full-time, part-time, or temporary) who is paid by one or more employer and provides domestic services to an individual or household in/about a private home as a nanny, house cleaner, cook, private chef, or household manager.
Limitations: All domestic services are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: All drive-in theaters.
Limitations: All drive-in theaters are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: Staffed indoor fitness studios and facilities, including but not limited to gymnastics, weight and resistance training, martial arts, yoga, and similar instructor-led fitness services, as well as staffed indoor tennis facilities.
Limitations: All fitness activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally limits to groups of five participants or less.
Activities allowed: All non-lecture based higher education and workforce training, including where social distancing may not be maintained.
Limitations: All higher education activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Limitations: All retail activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts customer occupancy to 30% of a building’s occupancy or lower as determined by the fire code.
Activities allowed: All public libraries, public library systems, institutional and governmental libraries, and libraries at institutions of higher education.
Limitations: All library activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which limits services to mail or curbside pick-up and libraries remain otherwise closed to the public.
Limitations: All manufacturing activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance.
Activities allowed: Staffed outdoor tennis facilities; guided ATV, paddle sports, and horseback riding; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross facilities, and participant only motor sports; gondolas; zoos and aquariums; guided fishing, and all other similar activities.
Limitations: All outdoor recreation activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance and are generally limited to groups of five participants or less, in some instances up to 12 individuals or three households are permitted.
Activities allowed: All personal services including Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools.
Limitations: All personal services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts customer occupancy to 50% with the exception of one to one services in an enclosed room.
Activities allowed: All pet grooming services including any location provided by an individual, or at a retail, veterinary, or other facility.
Limitations: All pet grooming services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts client occupancy to 50%.
Limitations: All professional photography services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts services to appointment only and for one client (and family member, if client is a minor) at any given time. Group sessions are not allowed unless the group consists of immediate family only.
Activities allowed: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base.
Limitations: All professional services are subject to Phase 2 guidance which restricts guest occupancy to 50% of a building’s occupancy with the exception of one to one service in a fully enclosed room.
Real estate (residential and commercial)
Activities allowed: All real estate brokers, firms, independent contractors and industry partners.
Limitations: All real estate activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts out of office activities to appointment only and with no more than three people; office activities require reservations for in-person customer services and guest occupancy is limited to 50% of a building’s occupancy.
Religious and faith organizations
Activities allowed: All religious and faith-based organizations may operate services including worship services; religious study classes; religious ceremonies; religious holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals.
Limitations: All religious and faith based activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance which generally restricts indoor services to the lesser of 25% capacity or 50 individuals and in-home services/counseling is restricted to no more than five individuals. Outdoor services are permitted for up to 100 individuals. Limitations on capacity does not include an organization’s staff, but does include volunteers.
Restaurants and taverns
Limitations: All restaurant and tavern operations are subject to Phase 2 guidance which prohibits any bar seating and restricts indoor customer occupancy to 50% of a building’s occupancy or lower as determined by the fire code. Outdoor dining is allowed at 50% of capacity and does not count toward the building occupancy limit; additional outdoor seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices and a restaurant secures any municipal permit that may be required.
Social and recreational gatherings
Limitations: Individuals may gather with five or fewer people from outside their household per week.
Activities allowed: Golf; professional sporting activities indoor and outdoor; outdoor youth team sports and outdoor adult recreational team sports, excluding school-connected or administered team sports and junior hockey.
Limitations: All sporting activities are subject to Phase 2 guidance (golf and other sporting activities). Non-professional sporting activities are generally limited to groups of five participants or less; for team sports that can mean limiting to groups of five in separate parts of the field if separated by a buffer zone. Professional sporting activities may generally operate, including up to 50 people for back office operations, for full team practices and spectator-less games and competitions.