Safe Start is a data-driven plan that includes regional variances based on population and low COVID-19 counts.
Some businesses could re-open as early as this week under the new COVID-19 order signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today. The state’s “Safe Start” plan is a phased approach to re-opening Washington’s economy.
Under the plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide.
Safe Start sets a careful approach to emerging from the pandemic. It allows for modifications of business closures and physical distancing measures while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.
“This phased approach to re-opening our economy will allow us to move forward with a careful and thoughtful balance of our state’s health and economic needs,” Inslee said. “However, if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives.
“I fully recognize the impact this is having on families, workers and businesses, but we have not yet won the fight against this virus,” Inslee continued. “We continue to see infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the state from COVID-19.”
While Stay Home, Stay Healthy is being extended to the end of May, the governor announced his Safe Start plan which amends some components of the original order and allow for a start to re-open the state.
Through the Washington “Safe Start” plan, more businesses and activities would re-open in phases with adequate social distancing measures and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.
Read the full Safe Start policy plan here.
Phase 1 timing:
Washington state is currently in Phase 1, with construction and other essential activities underway. The additions such as outdoor activities and additional sales and retail activities begin Tuesday, May 5. When the state moves to Phase 2, all components of Phase 1 will continue.
Phase 1 includes:
Phase 1 builds upon recent decisions made around re-opening some activities, including construction activity (allowed as of April 29) and outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, playing golf and some park access, which Inslee announced last week.
Phase 1 also adds (as of May 5):
When COVID-19 disease burden is low and decreasing and the four capabilities (health care system readiness; testing capacity and availability; case and contact investigations; and ability to protect high-risk populations) are met, the governor will issue an order for the state to move into Phase 2.
As noted above, each phase will be at least three weeks, data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.
Phase 2 includes:
All components of Phase 1 will carry into the start of Phase 2, which will include outdoor activities in small groups with people from outside one’s household, as well as limited non-essential travel within proximity of one’s home.
Additional modifications to restrictions in Phase 2 affecting business will include:
If COVID-19 disease burden stays low and the four capabilities (health care system readiness; testing capacity and availability; case; and contact investigations and ability to protect high-risk populations) are met, the governor will issue an order for the state to move into Phase 3.
Each phase will be at least three weeks, data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.
Phase 3 includes
All components of phases 1 and 2 will carry into the start of Phase 3, which will include resuming non-essential travel and allowing gatherings of no more than 50 people.
Phase 3 also includes resuming some public activity, such as:
Phase 4 includes:
If COVID-19 disease burden stays low and the four capabilities (healthcare system readiness; testing capacity and availability; case and contact investigations; and ability to protect high-risk populations) are met, the governor will issue an order for the state to move into Phase 4.
All components of phases 1, 2 and 3 will carry into the start of Phase 4 which would be a full return to public interactions (with appropriate physical distancing).
Inslee also announced on Friday, through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply to the state Department of Health with a plan to reopen more sectors of public life there.
“I am also mindful of regional differences and impacts across the state with regard to the spread of COVID-19 and our response. Not every part of our state is experiencing this pandemic in the same way. Therefore, some counties with lower numbers of cases and deaths, as well appropriate levels of PPE and hospital capacity, may explore plans for reopening businesses sooner,” Inslee said.
Counties that meet the criteria will have the opportunity to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. To apply for a variance, the local jurisdiction must follow the below process and submit the following materials to the Department of Health. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health.