Updated June 5, 2020: The plan submitted by King County for a modified Phase 1 re-opening was approved today by state Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman. It immediately allows limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses, recreation, and personal activities in King County. More information in a news release from the King County Executive.
Working together, our community has slowed the spread of COVID-19. Now, King County is working to gradually and carefully reopen the local economy.
On Wednesday June 3rd, King County submitted a plan to the Washington State Department of Health to allow for limited openings of recreational, social and business activities in a modified Phase 1 of the Governor Jay Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan. Activities may not begin until the State Department of Health has approved the application and businesses are able to meet the state’s public health guidance.
The State’s plan creates four phases that gradually increase activities based on the prevalence of disease and the ability to mitigate community transmission of the virus. King County is currently in Phase 1 of the four phases. Counties that do not qualify for moving to Phase 2 may apply for a modified Phase 1 variance to allow partial re-opening of some businesses and activities.
Because King County has not yet met key criteria to enter Phase 2 and local case counts remain unstable, the application is for a modified Phase 1 variance.
Answers to questions about the gradual re-opening in King County
When will the county be applying to move the modified Phase 1?
King County submitted its application on June 3rd and it was accepted on June 5.
When can businesses open for modified Phase 1?
The modified Phase 1 goes into effect immediately. However, businesses are authorized to open only after they are able to meet all safety criteria posted on the governor’s website.
When can the County go to Phase 2?
King County will continue monitoring progress of the modified Phase 1 opening through June 14. If metrics are more stable and we meet the state’s criteria, we’ll seek State approval to allow more businesses and activities to reopen in accordance with Phase 2.
What is the State basing their decisions on?
State and local health experts and public officials are monitoring trends toward a variety of targets that determine our ability to protect the public and manage the spread of disease in our community.
In particular, officials are monitoring:
- the number of COVID-19 cases in the county;
- availability for everyone with COVID-19 symptoms and those with high risk exposures to be tested immediately;
- ability to rapidly isolate those with COVID-19, and identify/quarantine their contacts;
- ability to reduce risks of most vulnerable populations; and
- health care readiness to handle any potential surge of COVID-19 patients.
You can monitor King County’s progress towards these trends on our Indicators dashboard.
What services would be opening under modified Phase 1?
Nearly all types of activities that are allowed in Phase 2 are allowed in a modified Phase 1, just at lower capacities and with 30 minute time limits for indoor real estate, professional services, and retail services. Generally speaking, modified Phase 1 allows indoor activities at half of the capacity allowed by Phase 2 and at full capacity of what’s allowed outdoors in Phase 2. Details about the activities in different phases of the Safe Open plan are available on the Governor’s website.
Details about what activities are allowed in the proposal King County submitted for a modified Phase 1 are below.
What activities are allowed under a modified Phase 1 application:
Pending State approval and a business’ ability to follow the State’s public health guidance (linked below), the following businesses and activities will be permitted in King County:
|Activity Area||Limits and Requirements|
|Outdoor recreation||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance, part 1, 2 and 3.|
|Fitness||All outdoor activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance, which limits the occupants to no more than five people outside of a household (excluding the instructor).Indoor fitness studios may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance but is limited to one on one activities only.|
|Social Gatherings*||Only allowed outdoors with five or fewer people outside the household.|
|Additional construction||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance.|
|Manufacturing operations||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance.|
|Real estate** (residential and commercial)||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may an office’s occupancy be higher than 25% and indoor services are limited to 30 minutes.|
|In-home/domestic services||As outlined in Phase 2 guidance which has not yet been released by the State.|
|In-store retail**||All non-essential retail activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may an establishment’s occupancy be higher than 15% and indoor services are limited to 30 minutes.|
|Personal services||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may the number of customers be more than 25% the number capable of being served at any one time, or 1 person if it is a single bed/chair studio.|
|Professional services**||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may an establishment’s occupancy be higher than 25% and indoor services are limited to 30 minutes.|
|Photography||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance.|
|Pet grooming||All activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may an establishment’s occupancy be higher than 25%.|
|Restaurants***||All outdoor dining activities may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance at 50% outdoor capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance. Additional or new outdoor seating would be allowed subject to maintaining 6 feet of distance between tables and chairs, as well as receiving a city permit as is typically needed. All indoor dining services may operate subject to Phase 2 guidance with the exception that at no time may the number of customers be more than 25% of the tables provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.|
**Real estate, professional services, and in-store retail businesses will be directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes. At no time may face to face interactions last longer than 30 minutes.
*** Public Health – Seattle & King County 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 add or expand outdoor seating.
Who will be enforcing the rules around modified Phase 1?
Washington businesses that open or operate in direct violation of Gov. Inslee’s order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed by the state Department of Labor & Industries. Workplace safety and health complaints may be submitted to the State Department of Labor and Industries Call Center: 1-800-423-7233.
Who can I contact if I have questions about how a modified Phase 1 applies to my business?
General questions from employers about the Safe Start plan can be directed to the state’s Business Response Center. Starting on Thursday, questions can also be directed to the King County COVID-19 Community and Business Compliance line: 206-296-1608.
Will there be additional guidance from Public Health – Seattle & King County?
We will release new guidance outlining best practices for a restaurant to expand or add new outdoor capacity. Other than that, businesses should follow the State’s existing Phase 2 guidance with an adjusted capacity limit as noted here. Additionally, retail, professional services, and real estate businesses must also include signage informing customers for the need to limit face to face interactions to 30 minutes or less.
As people come together more
Maintaining the safety principles that led to the success against the outbreak has never been more important. These include continuing to practice physical distancing of 6 feet or more, minimizing contact with others outside the home, frequent hand washing or sanitizer, use of cloth face coverings in public, and avoiding group gatherings and poorly ventilated spaces.
Originally posted on June 3, 2020.