One heated commenter on the livestream for Gov. Jay Inslee's press conference on Tuesday whined, "BRING BACK APPLEBEES!!!!" She and her husband have been suffering without it, she wrote.
Well, ma'am, you and your Applebee's may be in luck. Inslee announced 10 new counties that will be allowed to apply to start Phase 2. They are:
Phase 2 allows restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity (with other restrictions) and authorizes gatherings of five people or fewer. Barbershops and salons can reopen, and there can be some return to professional work, though teleworking should be the go-to.
Getting the green light to apply means that these counties had less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span. This means King County, which is still reporting upwards of 100 cases daily, has a way to go.
Getting to Phase 2, though, is a whole process.
An application will have to include information on how many tests the county is conducting, how they are getting access to uninsured people, whether there's language access for non-English speakers, and a game plan for how to house infected people who may not have a home to quarantine in or who cannot isolate in their own residence. The housing will have to be paid for by the government. That's a hurdle that Seattle is currently grappling with.
In order to apply, a local health official from the county in question will need to make a recommendation to the local board of health about whether they think it's time to move to Phase 2. Then, the local board of health deliberates and can choose whether to open everything up in accordance with Phase 2 or to limit the re-opening. If all of that works out, then the county commissioners vote on it. If it's approved, then they can start putting an application together.
It's important that counties that apply are suited to handle potential outbreaks in the future, since, as Inslee said, "We’ve made progress but we’re so far from being out of the woods."
Currently, ten counties are enjoying Phase 2. They are Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman. An important reminder, for those of us without dine-in restaurants and hair cuts: please don't overload the counties that will have these things soon. "It’s a time to remain close to home," Inslee said.
So, no spending Memorial Day in Spokane!!! But at least you can get those pearly-whites pearlier for Memorial Day.
Inslee has made it clear that these counties are setting the example for the rest of the state. Abide by the restrictions still in place, or all of us still in Phase 1 will be stuck in Phase 1.
"Their responsible behavior will show the way forward for the rest of the state," Inslee said. "We don’t want to do this twice."