OLYMPIA — Gatherings of up to 50 people and non-essential travel is once again allowed in Pacific County after it was approved to move to phase three of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Plan.
The announcement came from Washington state Health Secretary John Wiesman on Tuesday, June 16. Pacific County Board of Commissioners voted to apply for the variance on Saturday, June 13 in a special board meeting.
Long Beach City Mayor Jerry Phillips said he was glad about reduced restrictions for the county. He said the city, county and state parks are working together on a plan for the three-day July 4 weekend, when a significant upsurge in visitors is likely.
Beach approaches are expected to be open for the holiday weekend and the city granted permits to two private firework stands. The city isn’t encouraging people to come down for the weekend, but if they choose to come, Phillips wants them to have the ability to spread out on the beach.
Pacific County’s Department of Community Development received five firework stand permit applications, but has not yet granted any permits.
In addition to larger gatherings and less travel restrictions, phase three means outdoor group recreational sports with fewer than 50 people can resume. Recreational facilities such as gyms and public pools can reopen at less than 50% capacity.
Restaurants and bars can increase capacity to 75%, with table sizes no larger than 10 people. Bar areas in restaurants and taverns can increase to 25% capacity.
Businesses that reopen must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined on the Governor’s website.
Individual business sectors, such as movie theaters, libraries and museums, may reopen only after the state publishes its guidelines for the specific sector. The state was still working on those guidelines when Pacific County was approved for phase three. The link to that page is: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers.
Once those guidelines are posted, movie theaters can reopen at less than 50% capacity. Customer-facing government services, such as the Department of Licensing, may reopen, though telework is still encouraged for this phase. Libraries, museums and all other business activities not yet listed may reopen, except for nightclubs and events with more than 50 people.
The phases are how 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. Phase two allowed for new construction and the reopening of restaurants at reduced capacity. It also reopened salons and barber shops.
As of June 16, three Washington counties were in phase one, three are in a modified version of phase one, 22 counties were in phase two and 11 counties were in phase three.
As of June 14, Washington state had confirmed 26,158 covid-19 cases and 1,221 covid-19 deaths since the state began tracking the disease on Feb. 28.