With new state health officials’ approval today, restaurants and retailers will be allowed to serve customers in their establishments, in addition to other modified openings for a wide range of businesses and activities. Public Health – Seattle & King County will monitor transmission trends, medical capacity and other key indicators to help inform further reopening decisions.
“Businesses are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance “but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified,” the county announcement reads. The state defines an establishment’s capacity as the fire code, county officials say. “The intent is to limit business operations to a level that allows for social distancing.”
The approval is effective immediately but don’t expect all the reopenings to happen right away. New outdoor dining areas, for example, must still be approved by the city.
CHS reported here on the county’s progress on the key measures being considered by the state in approving new phases of reopening including infection rate, hospitalization trends, and testing resources. Thursday, Seattle announced a new free testing initiative that will add two mobile clinics — one to the north off Aurora and one in SoDo — as well as expanded recommendations for who should seek a test that includes anyone feeling even mild symptoms or who has had even a brief exposure to someone who is sick or tested positive.
Originally planned to be limited to add only outside dining to the takeout and delivery options they have been offering, restaurants can now consider adding limited indoor seating. More guidance is coming for food and drink businesses. Public Health will release guidance by Friday, June 5 to “advise how additional outdoor seating may be offered in the lowest risk manner.”
“Restaurants will need to go through the normal process within their city to seek approval to expand outdoor seating,” the county proposal reads.
Meanwhile, if you are excited about expanded options for outdoor recreation, here is the state’s expanded guidance for Phase 2 (PDF) which covers many of the details.
State officials have said they expect counties to allow three weeks or more before applying for the next phase but it’s not clear if the same timeline will apply for King County’s half-step move.
More details on the new “Phase 1.5” status for King County, below:
• Outdoor dining activities is allowed at 50 percent of capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance, though additional seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices. Restaurants will also need to go through the normal process within their city – or King County if the establishment is located within unincorporated King County – to seek approval to expand outdoor seating.
• Indoor dining services may operate at 25 percent of capacity, provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.
• All non-essential retail activities may operate but an establishment’s occupancy may not be not be higher than 15 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• Essential retail activities may continue to operate according to the existing state regulations.
Personal services: Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools
• All activities may operate but the number of clients served will be limited to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person if it is a single bed/chair studio.
Professional services: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base
• All activities allowed but an establishment’s occupancy should not be higher than 25 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to be less than 30 minutes, with face to face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• All construction, including those activities for which social distancing may not be maintained and the start of new construction projects, is authorized to resume.
“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease. The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all,” said Executive Constantine. “By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”
King County positive cases have leveled off at around 50 new cases a day. 564 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported here — 134 in Seattle, and 6 on Capitol Hill and in the Central District. The county continues to record around 2 or 3 virus-related deaths per day. King County’s updated COVID-19 reporting dashboard now shows daily testing and hospitalization totals — though the results are on a delayed basis.
Seattle residents have now been under COVID-19 “stay home” restrictions for 87 days.
CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE: + Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington puts ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks + Apr. 2 Washington restrictions extended + Apr. 6 Schools closed for rest of year + Apr. 8 Can’t relax those social restrictions yet but, exhale, Seattle — COVID-19 model says you’ve made it through this outbreak’s peak + Apr. 27 Washington eases restrictions on some outdoor activities but you’ll still need to give six feet on the trail + May 1 Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel +May 15 Zero: King County reports a day with no new COVID-19 deaths + May 29 Inslee transitions COVID-19 phases to ‘county by county’ decisions putting King County within striking distance for loosened restrictions
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