UPDATE: Gov. Inslee’s phased reopening economic plan

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed a proclamation that extends the stay-at-home order through May 31.

His staff also outlined the governor’s phased-in plan to reopen the economy at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Gov. Inslee’s full plan for a phased reopening (May 4, 2020)

Here is a guide to how businesses, recreation, gatherings, and travel will return in four phases. Phase 1 begins Tuesday, with the second phase set for June 1. Phase 3 would follow in about three weeks, with the fourth phase starting three weeks after that — which would be about July 13, if all goes well.

Why at least three weeks between phases? John Wiesman, state Secretary of Health, explained.

“One incubation period for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. So that three-week period gives us an incubation period and time for the data to come in to see if any of these changes are having any immediate impacts,” he said.

During all phases, individuals should continue to engage in physical distancing and wash their hands frequently, the governor’s office said. Businesses are required to take several steps in that same period, including maintaining the six-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and customers, and providing personal protective equipment to employees.


Businesses that could be open:

  • retail (curbside pick-up orders only)
  • automobile, recreational vehicle, boat, and off-road vehicle sales
  • landscaping
  • car washes
  • pet walkers

The types of businesses listed in phase 1 are not allowed to open until they receive and the state publishes “industry-specific guidance and safety criteria,” said Nick Streuli, acting external relations director in the governor’s office. The state is close to doing that for auto sales, he said.

Recreation: Allowed are hunting, fishing, golf, boating, and hiking.

Gatherings: No social gatherings. Drive-in spiritual services allowed with one household per vehicle.

Travel: Essential travel and non-essential travel for recreation, gatherings and businesses that are allowed during Phase 1. Essential travel is defined as going to the grocery store, picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, and going to the doctor’s office.

“The kinds of things that you see us allowing in Phase 1 are very low-risk kinds of activities,” Wiesman said.


Businesses that can be open:

  • retail (in-store purchases allowed with restrictions including physical distancing such as 6-foot separations between registers, proper hygiene, and screening employees for symptoms)
  • restaurants with 50 percent capacity and table sizes no larger than 5
  • new construction
  • real estate
  • hair and nail salons, barbers
  • professional services/office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • manufacturers that were not deemed “essential” businesses
  • pet grooming
  • in-home domestic services (nannies, housecleaning, etc.)

Recreation: Outdoor recreation involving fewer than 5 people outside your household (camping, beaches, etc.)

Gatherings: An individual can gather with no more than four different people from outside their household per week.

“The number of times the same five gather is not as important as limiting contact to those specific individuals,” said Mike Faulk, an Inslee spokesman. “The idea behind this restriction is that if there is a case of COVID it would be easier to trace who people came into contact with.”

Travel: Essential travel and limited non-essential travel for activities permitted under Phases 1 and 2.


Businesses that can be open:

  • restaurants/taverns at 75 percent capacity with tables sizes no larger than 10
  • bar areas in restaurants/taverns at 25 percent capacity
  • movie theaters at 50 percent capacity
  • customer-facing government services (telework remains strongly encouraged)
  • libraries
  • museums.
  • all other business activities not listed previously, except for nightclubs and events with more than 50 people

Recreation allowed:

  • outdoor group recreation and sports activities with 5 to 50 people
  • recreational facilities at 50 percent capacity (gyms, public pools, etc.)
  • professional sports without spectators (baseball, horse racing, etc.)

Gatherings: No more than 50 people.

Travel: Resume non-essential travel.


Businesses that could open:

  • nightclubs
  • concert venues
  • large sporting events

Recreation: Resume all recreational activity.

Gatherings: More than 50 people allowed.

Travel: Continue non-essential travel.

This story was originally published in the Tri-City Herald on May 5, 2020. It is available online here

The Governor’s full outline of his phased reopening is available here.