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Youth soccer games, dining out with friends, and 11 PM last call — With areas like Seattle stuck in reopening, Washington fine tunes COVID-19 restrictions

(Image: The Pine Box via Instagram)

Washington is fine-tuning its phased approach to reopening with Gov. Jay Inslee unveiling a roster of surgical changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions for everything from restaurants and bars to youth and adult sports that will allow later hours, soccer games, and, hopefully, a richer life as long as infection rates and new cases remain in check.

“We’re doing this now because we have had ongoing conversations with businesses about how to do these activities safely,” Inslee said in his announcement Tuesday. “Instead of tightening restrictions, we can roll some more back to allow safer operation of these activities. Here in Washington, we know the threat of COVID is real and we take it seriously. It is safety, and public health, that come first before anything else in this unprecedented time.”

Last week, CHS reported on the challenges facing King County in ever meeting the state’s thresholds for the next stage of reopening and Inslee and state officials taking a new approach to making sure areas like Seattle can progress as long as masking continues to keep new infections down. More guidance on face coverings including a new push to encourage masks even at home when meeting with friends and family will come.

First, the full roster of new updates to the Washington reopening plan need to be digested. Included in the loosening are changes that will help many struggling Capitol Hill venues by allowing an extra hour of alcohol service — last call will be 11 PM. And indoor service for Phase 2 areas like King County will now allow diners from multiple households to share a table. Museums and libraries can allow indoor activity at 25% capacity. Movie theaters can also be open at 25% capacity. And real estate agents can again hold open houses.

While officials remain concerned about a possible fall and winter spike in new cases, Seattle’s ranks well in relation to the rest of the nation’s major cities.

Last week, Inslee acknowledged frustrations as his most populous county remained stuck in Phase 2 of reopening despite improving conditions. “Things are different from place to place across county lines,” Inslee told CHS Thursday. “That creates frustration.”

The more surgical approach to reopening was also felt in the city’s parks this week. Tuesday, Seattle Parks reopened its playgrounds to children after months of closures.

Aspects of the state’s loosening will be closely tied to metrics. Fpr sports, for example, the state has set up three tiers of risk categories based on the rate of positive cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks and the recent rate of positive cases out of total tests Sporting activities have also been divided into high, medium, and low risk categories. What activity is allowed in which sport in which county is based on the county’s metrics and the risk level of the sport. Here, the state reports King County is currently coming in at 53.9 positive cases per 100,000 of population over the last two weeks. And we’ve turned in a 2% positivity rate among the tests performed here in the past week. That qualifies the county for the state’s “moderate” level. That means athletes in low risk sports like tennis, swimming, pickleball, and golf, and moderate risk sports like baseball, soccer, and lacrosse will now be allowed to compete head to head. But we’re still a way off from the return of high school football. Considered high risk, King County’s rate of positive cases per 100,000 people needs to drop to 25 from where it currently is over 50 to allow football games.

The new rules don’t change things as far as attending professional sporting events is concerned. But expect severe restrictions on spectators attending youth and adult recreational or school sporting events. Guidelines for a moderate level county like King County currently will limit each participant under the age of 18 to one spectator. No spectators are allowed at the field for adult sporting events.

Other major aspects of daily life including attending school in person aren’t yet part of the loosening efforts.

The updated guidelines and rules are effective immediately.

A full roster of updates from the state is below.

Libraries

These guidelines will align regulations with that of museums, allowing some indoor activity in Phase 2 at 25% capacity.

Read the full guidance here.

Youth/Adult Sports

These guidelines will align school related and non-school related sports guidance. Tournaments and crowds are prohibited in counties that aren’t in the low-risk category, but these guidelines will allow more school and non-school sports, both indoor and outdoor, according to a combination of local metrics. These metrics are aligned with state metrics for school opening recommendations. It also provides specific protocols for transportation, group size and facial coverings.

Read the full guidance here.

Movie Theaters

These guidelines will allow for occupancy in Phase 2 at 25% and 50% in Phase 3. Theater attendees will be required to maintain a 6 feet social distance between households and to wear facial coverings at all times when not eating and drinking.

Read the full guidance here.

Restaurants

These guidelines will move alcohol cutoff from 10 PM to 11 PM for Phases 2 and 3, as well as eliminates the indoor household member restriction for indoor dining. Additionally, the guidelines will allow for the increase of table size to six in Phase 2 and eight in Phase 3.

Read the full guidance here.

Wedding Receptions

These guidelines will increase the total number of wedding reception attendees to 50 in Phase 3.

Read the full guidance here.

Retail Events (craft sales shows, etc.)

These guidelines will expand the miscellaneous venues guidance to allow outdoor retail event shows in Phase 3 only, capping attendance to 200 people.

Read the full guidance here.

Real Estate

These guidelines will allow for open houses, but limit attendance by the counties’ gathering size limit in accordance to their Phase.

Read the full guidance here.

Outdoor recreation (running/bicycling/etc.)

These guidelines will provide protocols for Phases 2 and 3 for races, bicycle tours and rides, runs, cross country skiing races, biathlons, canoe and kayak races, marathons, cross country running competitions, triathlons, and multi-sport competitions with more than 12 participants.

Read the memo here.

Read the full guidance here.

Water Recreation Facilities

This guidance updates the current guidance for water recreational activities and facilities in Modified Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 counties.

Read the memo here.

Read the full guidance here.


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5 thoughts on “Youth soccer games, dining out with friends, and 11 PM last call — With areas like Seattle stuck in reopening, Washington fine tunes COVID-19 restrictions” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. The whole idea of opening movie theaters, open houses, and indoor sports while keeping schools closed is so mind boggling. I find it hard to process my rage.

    • As an educator, I can tell you it’s not our preferred method of teaching. We do prefer to stay healthy & provide a safe learning environment for all. Schools are not equipped to provide a safe learning environment for a group of 200-500 students with current facilities. There is insufficient square footage to socially distance kids and schools would also need many PPE protections for classrooms-such as dividers (you can’t stand a folder up for protection.
      Students are bringing exposures back & forth between home and school Many educators are also in high risk group. Couple that with the cold/flu season which is scientifically predicting another surge. Sickened spread in schools-fast!
      It’s not optimal situation-but hope this provides some clarity

    • It is outrageous now. It’s also science, not a choice. As an educator, it’s not the preferred method of teaching. We do prefer to stay healthy & provide a safe learning environment for all. Schools are not equipped to provide a safe learning environment for a group of 200-500 students with current facilities. There is insufficient square footage to socially distance kids and schools would also need many PPE protections for classrooms-such as dividers (you can’t stand a folder up for protection.
      Students can also be high risk and are bringing exposures back & forth between home and school. Many educators are also in high risk group. Sickness spreads in schools-fast!
      It’s not optimal situation-but hope this provides some clarity. If n

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