Chelan, Douglas and remainder of counties moved to Phase 2 of COVID-19 recovery

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OLYMPIA — In a long-awaited moment, Gov. Jay Inslee announced today Chelan and Douglas counties have officially advanced to Phase 2 in Washington’s COVID-19 recovery program.

Inslee’s announcement in an afternoon press conference brings NCW and three other counties — Yakima, Benton, Franklin — in line with the rest of the state. All five had labored under a “modified” Phase 1 in the four-phase Safe Start program.

Chelan and Douglas counties won that modification in June to allow more businesses and gathering spaces to reopen than what were normally allowed in Phase 1. Phase 2 status allows a broader reopening of businesses like bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums and libraries, with 25 percent occupancy and mask guidelines in place.

Safe Start phases are based on prevalence of COVID-19 within a given county. Some Phase 2 conditions already apply for Chelan and Douglas counties, since Inslee has loosened some restrictions under a series of executive orders.

But the Safe Start plan as a whole remains frozen, with no counties allowed to move fully between phases. Inslee placed that progress on pause following a statewide spike in COVID-19 cases last July.