The Board of County Commissioners voted in favor of moving to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan for reopening the economy.
The Board of County Commissioners voted in favor of moving to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan for reopening the economy at meeting May 22.
The vote does not mean the county is in Phase 2 yet. The “yes” vote allows county officials to send an application to the state Department of Health this afternoon, which must be approved by Health Secretary John Wiesman.
The application includes evidence that Jefferson County has the adequate health care capacity and adequate testing and contact tracing abilities in the county.
Commissioners approved recommendations made by Public Health Officer Tom Locke, which were modified and approved by the county’s Board of Health during a meeting on May 21.
If approved by the state, these activities will be allowed:
The board of health decided to take a regional approach to opening up camping and dine-in restaurants as well as retail businesses, such as downtown shops.
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 Locke, Clallam County intends to apply for Phase 2 with the hopes of moving to that at the beginning of June. Kitsap County is currently dealing with an outbreak of the virus at a nursing home, but also intends to apply for a Phase 2 variance.
“It may be that this region is going to open up fairly soon,” he said. “At this point it is very unlikely that there’s going to be a statewide opening on June 1. At least four counties are not even close to the criteria being used to open up.”
Based on the criteria needed for a county to move to Phase 2, it is unlikely that the move to Phase 2 will happen as a state, but instead county by county.
Gov. Jay Inslee so far has announced a total of 20 counties 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 building occupancy. All of these guidelines are available to read 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 if and when we get approved next week, that all of those guidelines must be followed in order for us to do this safely,” said Commissioner Kate Dean.
In addition, Locke will be issuing a “masking directive,” at the beginning of June. It is within the public health officer’s power to issue a county-wide order requiring citizens to wear masks within public spaces if they cannot maintain 6 feet physical distance from each other.
See the full story in the May 27th edition of the Port Townsend Leader