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Governor announces new reopening plan for 2021

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Note: This content was changed in a governor’s announcement on Jan. 28, 2021. It is available below for archive purposes only.

On Jan. 5, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a new plan for reopening Washington state’s economy. The new plan, called Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery, takes effect Jan. 11, 2021.

Here is what it means for your hospitality business.

What does reopening look like in each phase?

  • Phase 1: The current state of restrictions – including the closure of indoor dining, bowling centers and more. Lodging businesses continue to operate as an essential service. All regions are in Phase 1 starting Jan. 5.
  • Phase 2: Easing of restrictions, allowing indoor dining at 25 percent occupancy. Fitness centers open at 25 percent capacity and the size of wedding and funeral attendance increases.
  • Phase 3: Not yet announced.
  • Phase 4: Not yet announced.

What region am I in?

Your phase will be determined by metrics in the region in which your business is located. Rather than by county, your area is assigned an EMS and Trauma Region.

  • Puget Sound Region (King, Snohomish, Pierce counties)
  • East Region (Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman counties)
  • North Region (Island, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom counties)
  • North Central Region (Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan counties)
  • Northwest Region (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason counties)
  • South Central Region (Benton, Columbia, Franklin. Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima counties)
  • Southwest Region (Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Wahkiakum, Skamania counties)
  • West Region (Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston counties)

What numbers do we need to see?

In this plan, there is no need for regions to apply to move forward a phase. Every Friday, the state will evaluate metrics in your region and will let your region move to the next phase. Regions will move backward or forward according to their metrics over the past 14 days.

  • Phase 1: The current state.
  • Phase 2:
    • 10% decreasing trend in case rates
    • 10% decrease in COVID hospital admissions
    • ICU occupancy less than 90% (coronavirus and non-coronavirus patients)
    • Test positivity less than 10%
    • In Phase 2, regions must meet ALL FOUR metrics to move forward.
    • To remain in Phase 2, your region needs to continue meeting at least three of the four metrics. Regions that do not meet the metrics will go back to Phase 1.
  • Phase 3: Not yet announced.
  • Phase 4: Not yet announced.

What does this really mean for hospitality?

Very few hospitality businesses will be in Phase 2 soon. Your business will still need to comply with the restrictions that started Nov. 18, 2020:

  • Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor dine-in service. Outdoor dining and to-go service are permitted, provided that all outdoor dining follows the requirements of the Outdoor Dining Guidance. Table size for outdoor dining is limited to a maximum of five (5) people. These modified restaurant and bar restrictions went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 18, 2020.
  • Bowling Centers are closed for indoor service.
  • For miscellaneous venues: All retail activities and business meetings are prohibited. Only professional training and testing that cannot be performed remotely, as well as all court and judicial branch-related proceedings, are allowed. Occupancy in each meeting room
    is limited to 25 percent of indoor occupancy limits or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Miscellaneous venues include: convention/conference centers, designated meeting spaces in a hotel, events center, fairground, sporting arena, nonprofit establishment or a substantially similar venue.
  • Wedding and funerals: Ceremonies are limited to a total of no more than 30 people. Indoor receptions, wakes, or similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are prohibited.

From our CEO

Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO Anthony Anton Jan. 5 said:

“Today’s announcement is not a roadmap to recovery. It is a roadmap to a near-complete collapse of main street neighborhood restaurants and hospitality businesses.

When we were shut down again two months ago, I made a prediction that cases would continue to rise because people would host private social gatherings through the holidays. Unfortunately, I was right. On Nov. 15 when the governor announced he was closing restaurants again, we had 1,578 cases. On New Year’s Eve, before the parties began, we had 4,200 cases. We’re now in a third, rebranded shutdown that also will not work.

We have spent the better part of a year working with the governor and his team on some of the strongest indoor dining protections in the nation, which contact tracing data showed limited the spread of the virus. We’ve now been shut down again for eight weeks and cases have only continued to grow. This demonstrates what we’ve been saying: You can achieve compliance in a business, but not in homes.

We know that the increase in cases over the last two months is due to private social behavior – not restaurants. In fact, restaurants provide a place with effective protections that allow people to gather safety, but not while we’re closed.

It is clear the public is growing tired of 10 months of restrictions and that public support of ongoing restrictions with no end date is fading fast. Despite the governor’s travel advisory, Christmas weekend saw the highest airport traffic since the pandemic began. Public fatigue is weakening the effectiveness of the restrictions but isn’t diminishing the harm.

At the last shutdown, we had no vaccine. Now that we do, we believe the governor must answer: What is the timeline for rolling out the vaccine, who is next in line and what is this determination based upon? When is herd immunity expected? What is the detailed, long-range plan to support economic activity until herd immunity is achieved? And what is the plan for keeping main street from collapsing until that day arrives?

To date, our industry has only seen what amounts to a million dollar band-aid to a billion dollar problem that we did not cause and that we haven’t made worse. It’s simply not enough for our increasingly desperate members.

As other states have fought these orders in the courts and organized opening protest, we have done everything we can to work with the Governor’s Office, but this latest announcement leaves us at a loss for what to do next and makes it clear that we are running out of time.

We will be talking with our members immediately to get a sense of how they would like to proceed, as this plan is not acceptable to the thousands of small businesses whose livelihoods are hanging in the balance and the hundreds of thousands of employees who depend on us.”