Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Washington State, US, ease business restrictions in 21 counties as of May 26, maintain stay-at-home order through May 31.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Wenatchee, Washington
  • Tri-Cities (Kennewick-Pasco-Richland), Washington
  • Everett, Washington
  • Yakima, Washington
  • Walla Walla, Washington
  • Olympia, Washington
  • Oak Harbor, Washington
  • Pullman, Washington
  • Richland, Washington

This alert began 26 May 2020 15:02 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Washington State (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
As of May 26, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has allowed 21 counties to lift restrictions on additional businesses as part of Phase 2 of the state's economic recovery plan. Counties with less than 75,000 residents or counties with less than 10 confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span could request state authorities to lift additional restrictions within their jurisdictions. So far, officials have approved such requests in Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman counties. Three additional counties, Clallam, Kitsap, and Thurston, have met the requirements and may be allowed to move into Phase 2 in the coming days.

In Phase 2, the following additional activities and businesses are allowed:

  • Gatherings of up to five people.
  • All outdoor recreational activities, with a maximum of five people from a different household.
  • All remaining manufacturing activities, and new construction work.
  • In-person services at retail stores.
  • Office-based businesses.
  • Personal care businesses, including barbershops and hair salons.
  • Dine-in services at restaurants, with a maximum capacity of 50 percent, and tables with a maximum of five people.
  • Real estate businesses.
  • Fitness and training activities.


On May 5, authorities moved the entire state into Phase 1, which has allowed the reopening of auto and boat sales, landscaping, car washes, and some pet services, as well as fishing, hunting, boating, and golf. Retail stores have been able to operate for curbside pickup only. Residential construction was allowed to resume since April 29. Employers must ensure social distancing measures, enhance sanitation procedures, and prevent employees with symptoms from attending work. Other nonessential services must remain closed, although employees can work from home whenever possible.

A stay-at-home order also remains in place statewide through at least May 31. The order stipulates that residents may only leave their homes for essential tasks, such as obtaining basic goods, attending to a medical issue, caring for a person in need, or attending work at a business or service allowed to operate. People may also perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from others.

Essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and those involved in food, utilities, energy, security, media, and transport, may continue operating. All individuals must wear face coverings when in public.

Transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended if the number of COVID-19 cases increases. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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