State denies proposal by Chelan, Douglas counties to reopen at a quicker pace

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Chelan and Douglas counties asked to take a half-step toward reopening the Wenatchee Valley economy, but the state Department of Health turned them down.

Yesterday the Chelan-Douglas Health District asked for a variance under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start pandemic recovery program, to reopen small retail stores, medical and dental services, hair and nail salons, pet grooming and additional construction in the Valley.

All would still need to meet social distancing and safety requirements to minimize viral spread.

The petition was endorsed by multiple local agencies, towns, businesses and churches.

But counties must show no new COVID-19 cases for at least three weeks before they qualify.

Chelan and Douglas counties reported two new cases as recently as Monday.

Health Secretary John Wiesman rejected the proposal. Only eight Washington counties have so far qualified to move into Phase 2 of the governor’s four-phase recovery program.