Tentative June 30 reopening date for WA; all counties move to Phase 3; vaccinated residents being incentivized

Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the state is moving toward a statewide June 30 reopening date and that all counties in Washington will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan effective May 18.

“What we know now gives us the confidence to close this chapter in this pandemic and begin another,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday. “This next part of our fight to save lives in Washington will focus on increasing vaccination rates and continuing to monitor variants of concern as we move toward reopening our state.”

According to Inslee, the full reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination. 

Effective Tuesday, May 18, every county in the state will be in Phase 3 of Healthy Washington, including counties currently in Phase 2. 

Most indoor activities will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity until June 30 when most public spaces will return to full capacity.

Effective immediately, additional activities will be allowed with fewer restrictions and increased capacity for groups of fully vaccinated people.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of state and local public health, health system partners, community partners and every single person who got their vaccine, almost half of our state has received at least one dose,” said Umair Shah, MD, MPH, secretary, Department of Health. “While we are seeing hopeful signs in our data, our work is not yet done. Now is the time for everyone to get their vaccine and help others do the same. Every person who gets vaccinated brings us one step closer to reopening and staying open.”

Spectator events, such as indoor and outdoor sports, will no longer have limits on the number of vaccinated attendees. Small cruise ships with less than 250 passengers may sail if the full crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

This guidance also applies to conferences, live performances, weddings and funeral receptions.

Inslee also announced that Washington will fully adopt masking guidance issued by the CDC. He stressed that this guidance is for fully vaccinated people.

The guidance does not apply to health care settings like hospitals, long-term care, or doctor’s offices; correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or schools. And the federal order requiring masks on public transportation remains in place.

The announcement also indicated that starting this fall, schools will be expected to offer full-time, in-person learning for all students and a remote learning option for students who need it.

The announcement from Inslee does not mean that Washington’s state of emergency will lift on June 30. It also does not guarantee a full reopening if the state’s COVID-19 data changes. If the statewide ICU capacity reaches 90% at any point, activities will be rolled back again.

You can read more on the governor’s Medium page.