Gov. Jay Inslee announced on May 1 he will extend his Stay at Home, Stay Healthy Order at least through May 31.
“Today I am pleased to say that we are starting our careful phased, science and data-driven process to reopen Washington’s economy,” Inslee said. “While we are remaining absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the health of Washingtonians.”
Inslee’s four-phase process works toward gradually returning life back to normal.
Ten Washington counties with fewer than 50,000 people without many COVID-19 cases will be able to apply to the Department of Health to jump to phase two. San Juan County is not one of the ten Inslee listed, however, he added that in the next two weeks his office may expand the number of counties that may request transition to the next phase.
After Inslee announced the extension of the order, San Juan County Department of Emergency Management Director Brendan Cowan said the county will be releasing information in the coming days about what the extension means for the islands.
“The devil is in the details of course, and the next few days will provide more info on what exactly this plan may mean for San Juan County. We, like you, have questions that require clarification. We’ll work hard to provide context and updates as they’re available,” Cowan said. “Now that the Governor has released his plan, we do expect that the San Juan County Health Officer Order, currently set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on May 4th will be updated shortly. … Thanks for the ongoing patience and support of this amazing community as we move through this crisis.
Inslee said cities and counties in the state may continue to have more stringent restrictions beyond what the state does.
“We have not won this fight against this virus,” Inslee said. “We will have to continue to monitor and assess the data on a daily basis and adapt as conditions allow. So the new normal is not here yet.”
Inslee said that the health department told him that the state’s mitigation actions have suppressed the spread of disease.
“What we’re doing is working – social distancing is working,” Inslee said. “We are not wrestling with whether to lean toward the economy or to public health. They are one. They are mutually dependent.”
“Phase one is essentially where we are today with some minor changes,” Inslee said. “Every subsequent phase will obviously require social distancing going forward and appropriate health precautions including the use of personal protection equipment.”
This phase is a continuation of the Stay Home, Stay Health initiative for at-risk populations. It allows some outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, golf, boating and hiking. No social gathers are allowed, however, drive-in spiritual services are permitted with one household per vehicle. Only essential travel is allowed.
Businesses that can be open in phase one include: those deemed essential; existing construction may continue as long as it meets criteria; landscaping; auto sales; curbside pick-up retail; car washes; housecleaning; and pet walkers.
This phase also continues the Stay Home, Stay Healthy for at-risk populations. All outdoor recreation that involves fewer than five people outside of your household may occur, including camping and visiting beaches. Social gatherings are permitted, but restricted to no more than five people outside of your household per week. Limited, non-essential travel would be allowed within the proximity of your home.
Businesses that can resume operation include new construction; remaining manufacturing; in-home/domestic services, such as nannies; retail, with in-store purchases allowed with restrictions; real estate; professional services and office-based businesses, although telework remains strongly encouraged; hair and nail salons and barbers; and restaurants operating at 50 percent capacity or less with no more than 5 people at a table.
“We will work with industries and business leaders and working people to make sure we do this in a smart, safe and healthy way,” Inslee said.
Stay Home, Stay Health is still encouraged under phase three. This phase sees the addition of outdoor group recreational sports activities of fewer than 50 people and the opening of recreational facilities at 50 percent capacity. Social and spiritual gatherings of no more than 50 people would be permitted and non-essential travel may resume.
At this phase, restaurants may increase capacity to 75 percent with no tables of more than 10 people. Bars may be in operation with no more than 25 percent capacity. Indoor gyms and movie theaters may both operate at 50 percent capacity. Government buildings may reopen office operations with telework strongly encouraged. Libraries and museums may reopen. All other businesses not listed, with the exception of nightclubs and events with more than 50 people would be permitted, as well.
“I’ve said that our return to normal will still not look the way it did before this virus hit us until we have pharmaceutical interventions such as a vaccine,” Inslee said. “No one knows when that is going to happen.”
The final phase in the plan allows at-risk people to resume public interactions while still practicing physical distancing. All recreational activity may resume and gatherings more than 50 people are allowed. Nightclubs, concert venues, large sporting events and unrestricted staffing at worksites may continue.
“We are now moving forward to another phase of this mission for the state of Washington. And it is even more important now about the individual commitment of Washingtonians to help their community thrive,” Inslee said. “It’s the individual decisions that all of us will be making in the next weeks and months to come that is really going to determine whether we succeed to prevent huge fatalities in our state.”
Data on public health information will determine when the state moves from one phase to another, Inslee explained. Inslee said he is hoping that testing capacity can increase and that testing is important to progress through the phases.
“This remains a very precarious situation and we cannot be lulled into some sense of relief or thinking that we’re out of the woods,” Inslee said.