February 7, 2023

Inslee loosens COVID-19 business restrictions for restaurants, movie theaters, outdoor group sports and more

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday announced more activities would be able to take place in counties in their various stages of his four-part coronavirus reopening plan.

In a news conference Tuesday, Inslee described the measures as “targeted things to show how we can do this in a safe way” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For counties in the second phase of the plan, movie theaters will be able to operate at 25% capacity, and in the third phase, at 50% capacity. Facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between households will be required.

Meanwhile, restaurants in second- or third-phase counties can serve alcohol now up to 11 p.m. Those establishments will be able to boost their table size to six in the second phase, and to eight in the third phase.

“We’re hopeful this is going to allow restaurant to boost business in a safe way,” Inslee said in the news conference.

Many western Washington counties are in the second phase, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. A handful are in the third phase, such as Thurston and Grays Harbor counties.

No Washington counties are in the fourth — and lease restrictive — phase in the plan. Five counties in central and eastern Washington remain in a modified first phase, the most restrictive.

As part of the announcement, the real estate sector can hold open houses with numbers allowable for each county’s size-limit for gatherings.

The governor’s office will also release protocols for a variety of outdoor group sports with more than a dozen participants, such as bicycle rides, runs and marathons, kayak and canoe races, among others.

And Inslee announced some water-recreation facilities would be able to open on a limited bases. Facilities in counties in their first or second phase can open on an appointment-only basis.

And facilities in third-phase counties can open at 50% capacity.

The four-phase plan allows counties to request permission from state health officials to advance to more reopened stages according to public-health metrics around the virus.

Inslee and health officials this summer paused counties from advancing to less-restrictive phases, after a spike in cases.

The governor wasn’t expected in a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce that any counties would advance or move backward in the four-phase plan.

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