SOUTH BEND — After almost two hours of public comment, the Pacific County Board of Commissioners voted to apply for a variance from the state to move to phase two of reopening.

If the variance is approved, Pacific County will be able to reopen some parts of the county faster than the rest of the state. Pacific County became eligible to apply for a variance to move to phase two on Thursday, May 21.

The commissioners approved a plan for a full variance, which would allow new construction to begin; restaurants to reopen at 50% capacity with no bar seating allowed; hair and nail salons, as well as barbers, to see clients; and allow state parks connected to beaches to reopen.

The phases are how Gov. Jay Inslee is lifting his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, which was issued on March 23 to prevent the spread of covid-19. Each phase removes limitations set by the order. Phase one, for example, allowed ongoing construction work to resume and expanded what outdoor recreation was allowed. Counties without a variance are in phase one. While each phase was estimated to last about three weeks, that is subject to change based on covid-19 activity.

Applications for a variance are being reviewed by Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman. About 10 counties are already in phase two. Applications from counties must have the local public health officer's approval, as well as the local board of health's.

People can review the presentation of the Pacific County application here:

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