Coronavirus

Washington state reopening plan: what does the phase 1.5 mean?

Washington state loosens restrictions for phased opening as shutdown order approaches expiration amid the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Washington state reopening plan: what does the phase 1.5 mean?
JASON REDMOND REUTERS

As of mid-May many states around the U.S. have started to reopen the economy after months of being shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. For example, counties across Washington state will enter a phased reopening program on Monday as mandated by Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday.

Counties in Washington State that are currently in Phase 1 can apply to move to a modified version of that phase, which could allow more businesses and activities to reopen, like California did as of 30 May. This could be called Phase 1.5 said the Gov. on Friday’s news conference.

“We’re anticipating a number of these probably coming in about the same time,” Inslee said. “We want to thoroughly evaluate those. We want to have conversations with the local health department. Again, we may have questions about the application, but we also want to make sure that we fully understand their capabilities and capacities and that of the community to effectively control and continue to suppress this virus.”

Inslee on Friday announced modified requirements for counties to be eligible to move to Phase 2, including requiring them to have an average of less than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days. Previously the requirement was less than 10 new cases.

So far, 26 counties have moved to Phase 2, including Grant County. Inslee said the earliest counties could move to Phase 3 would be 3 June and starting 8 June workers will be required to wear face coverings unless they have no in-person interactions. Employers must provide face coverings, though workers can also wear their own if they meet minimum standards.

Businesses will be required to post signs encouraging customers to wear face coverings, but they won’t have to refuse service to those not wearing them. The governor’s stay home order expires at the end of Sunday but will be replaced with a new proclamation implementing these other ways of fighting Covid-19.