Clark County approved for immediate Phase 2 reopening

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By Wyatt Stayner
The Columbian

Clark County was approved for Phase 2 of reopening by the state Department of Health on Friday morning, and the county is allowed to immediately start following Phase 2 protocol.

That means that Clark County businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, barbershops and some retail stores will be able to operate with certain capacity restrictions and safety precautions in place starting today.

Gatherings with up to five people from outside a household are also now allowed, as is camping.

The state has approved Clark County for the second phase along with 13 other Washington counties.

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman notified Clark County Public Health of the approval Friday morning, according to a news release from Public Health.

“I’m pleased to see Clark County move into Phase 2 of the reopening plan, allowing many of our businesses to reopen and our residents to get back to work,” said Clark County Council Vice Chair John Blom. “But this doesn’t mean we’re back to business as usual. Gathering sizes are still limited and businesses must take steps to protect the health of their employees and customers.”

The county first applied for Phase 2 on May 22, but the application was put on pause a day later after a large coronavirus outbreak at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver was discovered.

Public Health’s containment efforts on the Firestone outbreak lead to low community transmission outside of Firestone employees and close contacts.

That effort appears to have helped the county’s Phase 2 application.

A tweet from Clark County Public Health emphasized that people should still follow physical distancing guidelines. Masks are also encouraged when people are inside in a public space, or can’t keep six feet of distance from others.

“It’s still important to be vigilant about washing hands, not touching face & disinfecting high-touch surfaces,” the tweet reads. “Physical distance is crucial & we continue to recommend wearing cloth face coverings when you cannot maintain physical distancing.”