Inslee says Phase 1 counties, like Chelan and Douglas, can apply for a modified reopening plan


Gov. Jay Inslee said his Stay Home, Stay Healthy emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will expire Monday and be replaced with what he called his Safe Start Recovery Program.

But he did not add any counties to the list of those eligible to move to Phase 2 of his four-phase recovery plan.

Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties remain in Phase 1.

But Inslee did say those Phase 1 counties can now apply for a modified plan, which he called Phase 1.5.

Inslee said under that modified Phase 1 plan, counties will be allowed flexibility to resume some Phase 2 activities, if their plan is approved by the state Department of Health.

Phase 2 allows many retail businesses, professional services and restaurants to reopen, though with restrictions in many cases.

So far, 22 of Washington’s 39 counties have already moved to Phase 2, with four other counties eligible to apply.

Inslee also said he will be requiring face coverings be worn by employees at businesses and workplaces, but it is not clear if there will not penalties if they do not.

“This is a legal requirement … (businesses) are required to provide masks to employees,” Inslee said.

But he said it was likely more people would comply willingly without the threat of punitive action.

That provision will begin June 8, and retailers will be asked to encourage customers to also wear face coverings, Inslee said.

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said counties will decide which activities they can apply to have reopened.

Inslee said a key metric being used for opening up counties will now be relaxed.

Currently, there can be no more than 10 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 in a county over the past three weeks in order to have restrictions lessened. Now, it will be 25 new cases per 100,000 over the past three weeks.

In its latest report Friday morning, the Chelan-Douglas Health District said there have been 97.2 new cases per 100,000 residents in Chelan County over the past three weeks, and 96.7 new cases per 100,000 in Douglas County.