On Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee announced an update to the Safe Start plan for reopening Washington State. The new measures aim to have social gatherings take place less often, last for shorter amounts of time, and to take place in safer environments. For Whatcom County, which is currently in Phase 2 of the plan, it means some changes will be necessary for fitness centers, entertainment centers, restaurants and bars, for wedding and funeral events, and that people will be required to wear face coverings in more shared spaces. Here’s what you need to know:
Starting on July 25th, face masks will be required in shared public and private spaces. Shared spaces include those used for necessary activities, such as getting in and out of apartment or condo buildings. Face masks must be worn in courtyards, elevators, in hallways and walkways, and in congregate residential settings, like university housing, hotels, and nursing homes.
Beginning on July 30th, indoor service at bars must end along with use of gaming areas, such as pool tables, darts, or video games. Bars may continue operations in outdoor seating areas.
Also beginning on July 30th, restaurants may only serve alcohol until 10:00pm, and people from different households will be seated together only if they are outdoors and if there are no more than five individuals. Households may eat together indoors, provided the restaurant is operating at no more than 50% capacity and party size is no larger than five.
For counties in Phase 2, such as Whatcom County, indoor fitness activities will be limited to no more than five people (not including staff) beginning on July 30th.
While in Phase 2, all entertainment and recreation centers, like bowling alleys, arcades, or mini-golf courses, as well as indoor card rooms and movie theaters, will be closed.
Starting on August 6, indoor wedding and funeral ceremonies (spiritual or secular) will be limited to 20% of the venue’s capacity, or 30 people, whichever is fewer. Receptions will not be allowed.
While these new limits will reduce our ability to participate in certain activities, adherence to these protective measures will slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to move into the next phase more quickly. By choosing to gather less often, for shorter lengths of time, and in safer environments, we can each play a role in keeping our community safe and healthy, and helping to get folks back to work.