First phase of Inslee’s ‘Safe Start Washington’ reopening begins today

Most 'stay home' restrictions still in place, but governor has opened some recreation and will allow retailers to offer curbside pickups

Today marks the first day of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s new phased reopening of the state amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Inslee’s initial “Stay Home, Stay Safe” plan was set to expire Monday, but the governor has extended his “stay at home” order through the month of May. 

Instead of allowing a blanket reopening of the state, the governor’s office rolled out a four-phase “Safe Start Washington” plan designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the state’s most vulnerable populations and insure health care systems will not be overloaded while “safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation.” 

The first phase allows for some outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, golfing, boating and hiking. Most of Washington’s state parks also reopened today for day-use activities, but parks in the Columbia River Gorge, including Beacon Rock near Stevenson, as well as those on the coast, remain closed. 

The first phase also eases restrictions on some businesses, including landscaping and automobile sales, car washes, pet walkers and retailers. As of today, retail shops may offer curbside pickups. Existing construction that meets the state’s criteria is also able to resume. 

Starting today, drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle also will be allowed under Inslee’s first phase of the “Start Safe Washington” plan.

In the second phase, which is not slated to begin until after May 26, gatherings of up to five people outside an immediate household will be allowed; remaining manufacturing and new construction will resume; and in-home service such as housecleaning and nannies will be allowed again. 

The second phase also will allow for restricted in-store purchases at retailers, a reopening of businesses such as real estate, hair and nail salons, and barbers. During the second phase of the state’s reopening, restaurants will be allowed to offer tables with no more than five people at less than half capacity.

The third phase will ease even more restrictions on travel, businesses and recreating. The final fourth phase resumes all recreation, gatherings of more than 50 people, non-essential travel, and will allow large venues such as sporting events and concerts. 

The governor has said each of the phases will be in place for at least three weeks and that moving onto the next phase will depend on several factors, including the number COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Washington and various data-driven models showing the risks associated with a relaxing the statewide “stay at home” order. 

“This phased approach to reopening our economy will allow us to move forward with a careful and thoughtful balance of our state’s health and economic needs,” Inslee said at a press conference held Friday, May 1. “However, if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives.”

To see a chart outlining the four phases, visit governor.wa.gov/news-media/chart-washingtons-phased-approach.

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