Coronavirus: Inslee puts indefinite pause on phased reopening plan

VIDEO: Coronavirus: Inslee announces rollbacks to rules for restaurants, bars and more

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the state is putting an indefinite pause to the state’s Safe Start plan.

It’s the second time the pause has been extended since first implemented earlier this month.

Last week, Inslee announced a separate series of rollbacks to the state’s “Safe Start” plan concerning restaurants, bars, fitness centers, weddings, funerals family entertainment centers, movie theaters and card rooms.

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Here’s a breakdown of some of the changes:

Weddings and Funerals (Aug. 6)

  • Receptions prohibited (ceremonies permitted)
  • Occupancy is limited to 20% capacity or 30 people, whichever is less. Must be able to maintain physical distance of six feet.

Restaurants and bars (July 30)

  • Indoor dining limited to household members
  • Alcohol sales must end at 10 p.m.
  • Table size reduced to 5 people and total occupancy to 50% capacity in phase 3
  • Game areas must close
  • Bars will close indoor service

Click here for more information on the changes.

“We do not take these steps lightly,” Inslee said. We know every prohibition is a challenge for individuals and business owners. But we know that if we fail to act, we will expose thousands of people.”

The latest statewide death toll as reported by the Department of Health had reached 1,596 deaths among 58,173 confirmed coronavirus cases as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the counties with the highest totals: King County has 657 deaths among 15,501 cases; Snohomish County has 189 deaths among 5,143 cases; and Pierce County has 127 deaths among 5,127 cases.

Click here to see where other counties in the state stand.

Key coronavirus updates:

Information from local officials

Gov. Inslee also announced Thursday he was extending the statewide moratorium on evictions.

Inlsee said more specific details on the extension are coming. The previous eviction moratorium was set to expire Aug. 1.

The Gov. said the extension “directs my staff to convene an informal working group of landlords and tenants to discuss potential changes to this order in the short-term and the long-term, if an additional extension is needed.”

Inslee said his staff will reach out to stakeholders and members of the legislature soon and added that the extension comes with certain expectations.

“I expect landlords and tenants to remain in communication,” Inslee said. “If you haven’t spoken to them since March, when we first announced this moratorium, it’s imperative that you do.”

Click here to read more.

Governor expires “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order

Inslee expired the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order on May 31 and announced that the state would move to a “Safe Start” county-by-county phased reopening approach on Monday.

Under the “Safe Start” plan, individual counties are able to apply to the secretary of health to move between the phases or add new business activities. There is now an indefinite pause on counties moving forward to new phases.

When applications are allowed, they must be submitted by a county executive. If a county does not have a county executive, it must be submitted with the approval of the County Council/Commission.

The Secretary of Health evaluates each application based on how their data compares to certain targets. Click here for a complete breakdown.

An individual county’s ability to respond to outbreaks, increased deaths, health system capacity and other factors are also considered.

The Secretary of Health can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or can deny the application.

The state is using certain metrics to evaluate when and how to lift various restrictions. The five metrics being used are: COVID 19 disease activity; testing capacity and availability; case and contact investigations; risk to vulnerable populations, and health care system readiness.

How you can protect yourself and what to do if you think you were exposed

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patients reportedly have mild to severe respiratory illness. These are steps health officials recommend to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.
  • Washington State Department of Health: What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease
  • Washington State Department of Health: What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease
  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you’re a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact:
  • For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127 and press #.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.