Inslee loosens pandemic restrictions
By The HERALD and Staff Reports
There were a total of 475 coronavirus cases and 0 deaths confirmed in Washington through mid-afternoon Saturday, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 93,035, including 2,190 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. At least 7,786 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus. State health officials confirmed 642 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Friday in addition to seven new deaths.
Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 6) loosened restrictions on a range of businesses and activities, from movie theaters to restaurants to outdoor sports, under his four-part coronavirus reopening plan. The move came after Washington this summer stopped counties from advancing to further stages of reopening under that plan.
In a news conference, Inslee said he wasn't resuming those county-by-county reopenings, but described Tuesday's measures as "targeted things to show how we can do this in a safe way" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes come as Washington, as many states across the nation, is starting to see an uptick in cases that health officials worry could worsen in the coming months. Inslee said the state would make another push to encourage the widespread use of facial coverings.
"We believe that if we continue to increase our use of masks, and we hope that we're heading in that direction, that will allow us to make these shifts to allow more social interactions," Inslee said.
According to the new guidelines, movie theaters in second-phase counties can operate at 25 percent capacity, For counties in the third phase, those theaters can open at 50 percent capacity. Facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between people of different households will be required.
Also, alcohol service is extended from 10 pm until 11 pm, and table sizes are increased to six people for counties in Phase 2 and eight people for counties in Phase 3. Libraries can also reopen indoor operations at 25 percent capacity in Phase 2.
Nearly all of Washington's 39 counties are in the second or third phase of the governor's reopening plan. No county is in the fourth, least restrictive, phase, and five counties in central and eastern Washington remain in a modified first phase, which is the most restrictive.
The announcement also loosens some restrictions around some school and nonschool youth sports. The guidance puts sports into three risk levels, and allows them based on how counties are meeting specific public-health metrics. As an example, many counties could possibly have the resumption of sports considered low-risk like track and field, cross country, golf, tennis, swimming, dance, no-contact cheer and disc golf.
The sports considered a moderate risk include baseball, fastpich softball, volleyball, soccer, T-ball, lacrosse, ice hockey, cricket and field hockey, gymnastics and crew, and bowling.
The announcement also loosens some restrictions around some school and nonschool youth sports. The guidance puts sports into three risk levels, and allows them based on how counties are meeting specific public-health metrics.