Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that Washington’s stay-home order has been extended through May 31, and has outlined a phased reopening that’s been broken down into four stages.
The reopening plan is based on Washington’s daily number of new confirmed cases, COVID-19 fatalities, and hospital data and projections. Gov. Inslee didn’t give specific dates for the four phases; rather, he said to expect each phase to last three weeks at least, so officials can determine whether it’s working.
Phase 1, which will likely last until early June, will ease some restrictions but generally retain strict physical distancing. Some business could be able to reopen in mid-May, which would include retail stores that can offer curbside pickup, car dealerships, car washes, pet walkers, housecleaners, and landscapers. Some recreation will be permitted, including boating, golfing, and hiking. Drive-in spiritual services will be allowed, with one household per vehicle. Travel will continue to be limited to essential trips only.
Phase 2 will begin to reopen a broader range of businesses; restaurants will be permitted to open at 50 percent capacity, with table sizes capped at five.
KISS Cafe owner Brenda Reed tells My Ballard that even half-capacity is better than none, and would be welcomed by many in the community.
“For people’s mental health we need to start bringing back some doses of meaningful social interaction,” Reed says. “But again, people need to understand that 50 percent capacity only generates 50 percent of revenue. Most of our other expenses remain at 100 percent. My landlord isn’t giving me a break, my bank isn’t giving me a break, Comcast isn’t giving me a break. Really, the only people helping me are our loyal customers who want to see us come through the other side of this.”
KISS Cafe’s regulars have really stepped in, helping Reed keep her employees on the payroll with the Ballard Drinking Team (BDT) quarantine challenge; 100 beers at KISS get you “on the team,” a tradition that’s amassed hundreds of BDT members over the years. Some cafe faithfuls have been taking the pandemic BDT challenge, carting away 100 different beers to complete their own lists at home.
On top of COVID-related business downturn, Reed has also dealt with the lost business from the ongoing construction of NW Market St in front of her cafe. Before COVID, business was already down about 25 percent from construction that wiped out parking spots and sidewalks all around the cafe.
“This is a double whammy,” Reed says, adding that now, more than ever, community dollars matter, and “where you spend them is going to have a massive impact on what the future of our communities look like.”
Phase 2 will also allow real estate, hair and nail salons, and in-person retail stores to reopen. Gatherings up to five people per week outside the immediate household will be permitted, as will more recreation such as camping, limited to five people outside the household per week.
Phase 3 will begin to allow indoor group sports and non-essential travel, but will limit gatherings at 50 people. This means restaurants will be permitted to reopen at less than 75 percent capacity, and gyms, movie theaters, museums, and libraries will all slowly reopen.
The last phase will look the most like “normal,” but with the caveat that physical distancing should be practiced when in public spaces. Nightclubs, concerts, and sporting events will also resume.
Some counties that weren’t as hard-hit by COVID-19 will be reopened more quickly, including Columbia, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Kittitas, Ferry, Grays Harbor and Wahkiakum.
Photo: Gov. Jay Inslee on Facebook