Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday announced he would not extend the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order beyond Sunday and would allow counties more flexibility to apply to advance through the current four-phase reopening plan using updated benchmarks that some larger counties had been seeking.
The stay-at-home order — in place since March 23 — was set to expire Sunday night. With the addition of two more counties Thursday, 26 of the state’s 39 counties are currently approved for Phase 2, which allows restaurants and taverns to reopen at half capacity with limited table sizes, hair and nail salons and barber shops to resume business, and for retail stores to reopen for in-store purchases at 30% capacity. It also allows additional outdoor recreation and gatherings with no more than five people outside of a person’s household.
Initially, only counties with a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 over three weeks could apply for a quicker reopening. But last week, Inslee modified those metrics, allowing those with fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period to apply for a variance from the order. Some larger counties, including Pierce and Snohomish, had argued the case count requirement was too strict and that their counties were ready to move to the next phase.
Now, starting Monday, any county can apply to advance to the next phase or to add new business activity, with the applications assessed on several targets, including whether the counties have had fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.