County moves to Phase 2

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State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved Jefferson County’s application to move to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan May 23.

The approval means these activities are now allowed:

Outdoor recreation involving fewer than five people outside your household, excluding all overnight camping on state and county lands.

Gatherings with no more than five people outside your household per week. Graduation activities consistent with Phase 2 limitations and state guidance criteria, including use of the drive-in facilities.

Essential travel and limited non-essential travel for Phase 1 — and 2 — permissible activities.

Business owners or employers can open, including manufacturing (non-essential repair, maritime industry and others); additional construction phases; professional services/office-based business, pet grooming, hair and nail salons for pre-existing customers only.

In-home/domestic services, such as nanny and house-cleaning services cannot open until the governor issues guidance on how to reopen safely. In addition, professional services related to tourism are not yet permitted to open.

Phase 2 also recommends all at-risk citizens, such as those who are older than 65, continue to stay at home, and that all citizens maintain 6-foot physical distancing when in public.

The board of health decided to take a regional approach to opening up camping, dine-in restaurants, real estate and retail businesses.

After Clallam County moves to Phase 2, Jefferson will open up overnight camping. After both Clallam and Kitsap counties move to Phase 2, Jefferson will open up restaurants for sit-down services at 50% capacity, real estate offices and retail shops.

According to Public Health Officer Tom Locke, Clallam and Kitsap counties are both in the midst of applying for Phase 2.

“The period in which we are holding back on camping and certain activities may not last very long after all,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee so far has announced 20 counties that can apply to move to Phase 2.

“Most people are looking at this opening process as a regional phenomenon rather than a statewide one,” Locke said.

All businesses must follow guidelines from the state Department of Health when they open. For example, retail stores must limit occupancy of their businesses to 30% of the maximum allowed by statute. All of these guidelines are available on the governor’s website.

“Businesses are responsible for visiting the governor’s webpage and seeing what guidance exists for Phase 1 and Phase 2,” said Commissioner Kate Dean. “All of those guidelines must be followed in order for us to do this safely.”

In addition, Locke said he will issue a “masking directive” May 27. It is within the public health officer’s power to issue a county-wide order requiring citizens to wear cloth masks within public spaces if they cannot maintain 6 feet physical distance from each other.

“We are asking essential workers to put themselves on the front line continuously,” he said. “The way we show our gratitude for them keeping society up and running is to wear masks. It’s a kind of courtesy that we do for each other.”

According to Willie Bence, director of the department of emergency management in Jefferson County, the state emergency operations center will provide two cloth masks for every Washingtonian at 200% or below the poverty line.

Mask-makers in Jefferson County secured a $5,000 grant for materials and will work with the Jefferson County emergency department to distribute newly made masks, he said.

Reopening business involves risk, Locke said. He received hundreds of comments from citizens who did not want to move to Phase 2. But keeping everything closed was never a long-term solution, he added.

“We have to start taking risks and learning to control those risks,” he said. “What’s going to determine how successful we are moving to Phase 2 — and then hopefully getting to Phase 3 in early- to mid-July — it’s going to be how well we do as a community.”

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