Gov. Jay Inslee’s new COVID-19 safety “Healthy Washington” plan to reopen businesses across the state was enacted Monday, grouping counties into regions as they work toward reopening without worsening the pandemic.
Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan, and Island counties will be considered the “North Region” in the two-phase plan.
“Our efforts have saved lives, but we’re not done yet. Every single choice we make in the coming weeks and months could ensure that more people are able to see this pandemic through,” Inslee said in a news release.
Every region begins in phase one, which has similar restrictions to the ones previously in place, although indoor fitness and outdoor entertainment will be slightly relaxed.
Fitness centers can have appointment-based indoor training with one person per room or 500 square feet, and no-contact sports, such as dancing, climbing and gymnastics, will be allowed with no more than five athletes in set groups.
Phase one restricts indoor capacities to 25% for retail, worship, professional and personal services. Weddings and funerals are limited to outdoor ceremonies of 30 people or less.
For a region to move into phase two, it must meet four metrics: at least a 10 percent reduction in the two-week trend of COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions per 100,000 people, have a total ICU occupancy of less than 90%, and a COVID-19 positive test rate of less than 10 percent.
To stay in phase two, it must remain stable in three metrics.
These metrics will be taken every Friday, and the phase determination will be set on Monday.
Phase two outlines slightly more relaxed measures and allows for indoor gatherings with five people outside of your household, but limiting the households to two. It will add indoor dining and indoor fitness to the businesses that can operate at 25% capacity.
County Health Officer Howard Leibrand told the Skagit Valley Herald that the other counties in Skagit’s region could help Skagit move to the next phase quicker.
“We have the benefit of other counties who are doing a bit better than we are,” Leibrand said.
Masks and social distancing continue to be required no matter which phase.
* Skagit Publishing contributed to this report.