Gatherings are allowed now! We can have small weddings, and barbecues again! Still following the safety protocols and maintaining social distance of course. I had a feeling they were going to push this through before the fourth of July holiday. Apparently, our hospitalization rates and new cases have been within reasonable parameters for long enough. To maintain this phase and keep moving forward to phase 4 counties will be individually evaluated every three weeks. The evaluations will occur on Mondays with any possible changes taking effect Friday, with the first evaluation scheduled for April 12th. These evaluations will vary depending on the size of the county. Large and small counties will have different sets of criteria. If any county fails one or more of the metrics, that county will move down one phase in the Healthy Washington plan.
Large counties are those with more than 50,000 residents. They must keep a 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer.
Smaller counties must maintain a 14-day average of new cases at 30 or fewer, and a new seven-day hospitalization average at three or fewer.
For large counties to remain in Phase 3, they must keep a 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer.
Everyone still needs to wear a mask. Our only hope of keeping this to a minimum is up to us. We have a responsibility as humans to protect ourselves and keep our society as safe as we possibly can. If you are not wearing your mask, you are the problem and could set us all back to lockdown again. Please be conscientious of others, and do your part. If at any point the statewide ICU capacity reaches greater than 90%, all counties will move down one phase. The Department of Health always maintains the ability to move a county forward or backward at their discretion.
Outdoor social gatherings shall be limited to 50 people from outside your household. Church services allowed with up to 50% indoor capacity. Retail stores, including farmer’s markets, are allowed with up to 50% indoor capacity. Personal services allowed with up to 50% indoor capacity. While remote work is still “strongly encouraged” wherever it’s possible, companies will be able to bring employees back at 50% capacity.
I was out and about on Monday to see how the new reopening was going for some local businesses. Anthony’s Homeport on the Everett waterfront was at max capacity. It was great to see life coming back to the community. The Irishman on Colby Avenue was at capacity also. There is so much enthusiasm and excitement about being able now to go into public and going back to work. The air in these places was full of energy and for the first time in a year, I felt like people had hope.
Fans will be allowed at sporting events for the first time in a year. Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor venues with permanent seating with capacity capped at 25%. The change affects both professional and high school sports, as well as motorsports, rodeos, and other outdoor spectator events. Social distancing and facial covering are still required.
The new phase also allows for up to 400 people to attend outdoor activities, as well as events in indoor facilities — so long as 400 people does not exceed 50% capacity for the location, and physical distancing and masking protocols are enforced.
Larger venue events are capped at 25% occupancy, or up to 9,000 people, whichever is less and must follow spectator guidelines.
RESTAURANTS, THEATERS, AND GYMS
Phase 3 will allow up to 50% occupancy or 400 people maximum, whichever is lower, for all indoor spaces. This applies to all industries and indoor activities, including restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, and movie theaters, among others. Restaurants can also offer alcohol service until midnight, Inslee said. Gov. Inslee’s office did clarify that nightclubs could reopen “if they can reconfigure their business operations” to comply with the state’s “Eating and Drinking Establishment” guidance. That would make it so clubs would be limited to table seating of no more than six people each, spaced out six feet apart. Alcohol service would have to end at midnight, and standing and dancing would still be prohibited.
Being able to get out again and have some of the outlets and a few gatherings here and there might seem scary to some people. With the vaccine becoming more widely available and safety precautions being followed, it really is beginning to look like things are getting back to some sense of normalcy. Be responsible when you are out and keep checking on when you can get the vaccine. I’ve been out and supporting local business as much as I can, if we don’t do it now we might not have these things to look forward to in the future.