On May 4, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25.3, extending Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, which was set to expire on May 4, 2020, to May 31, 2020. The governor’s office also released Washington’s Safe Start plan, detailing a four-phase approach to reopen the state in three-week intervals, which may be adjusted depending on various risk indicators. The four phases will proceed as follows:
During phase one (which starts on May 5, 2020), the following are permitted:
- Existing construction projects that meet certain social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and safety requirements (as previously announced on April 24, 2020)
- Limited outdoor recreational activities (e.g., hunting, fishing, golf, boating, and hiking, as previously announced on April 27, 2020)
- Nonurgent medical procedures (with greater flexibility for hospitals, as previously announced on April 29, 2020)
- Drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle
- Essential businesses already open
- Automobile/RV/Boat sales
- Retail for curbside pickup
- Car washes
- Pet walkers
- Essential travel
Group gatherings are prohibited.
During phase two (which is projected to start on approximately May 26, 2020), the following activities are permitted:
- All outdoor recreational activities involving no more than five people outside of their immediate household
- Remaining manufacturing
- New construction
- In-home/domestic services (nannies, housecleaning)
- Retail (in-store purchases allowed with restrictions)
- Real estate
- Professional services (but with continued telework encouraged)
- Hair and nail salons
- In-home/domestic services (i.e., housecleaning)
- Pet grooming
- Restaurants operating at less than 50 percent capacity and with tables of no more than five guests
- Gatherings of five people or fewer
- Limited nonessential travel within proximity of home
During phase three (which is projected to start on approximately June 16, 2020), the following activities are permitted:
- Professional sports without audience participation
- Outdoor recreation/sports activities (limited to groups of no more than 50 people)
- Restaurants operating at less than 75 percent capacity with table of fewer than 10 guests
- Bars at less than 25 percent capacity
- Gyms at less than 50 percent capacity
- Movie theatres at less than 50 percent capacity
- Customer-facing government services (with continued telework encouraged)
- Government (with continued telework encouraged)
- All other business activities not yet listed except for nightclubs and events with greater than 50 people
- Social gatherings of up to 50 people
- Nonessential travel
During phase four (which is projected to start on approximately July 6, 2020), the following activities are permitted:
- All recreational activity
- Convert venues
- Large sporting events
- Resume unrestricted staffing of worksites, but continue to practice physical distancing and hygiene
- Gatherings over 50 people
Regardless of the reopening phase that Washington is in, the Safe Start plan requires all Washington employers to comply with the following directives:
- “Maintain the six-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons, and adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
- Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
- Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors, and patrons.
- Ensure employees have access to handwashing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
- Identify [PPE] and cloth facial coverings in accordance with [Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’] requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards.
- Provide the necessary PPE and supplies to employees.
- Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19–positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to a COVID-19–positive employee.
- Follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness, which may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
- Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
- On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening employees for illness and exposure upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
- Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
- Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal laws, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Proclamation 20-25, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Coronavirus Prevention Under Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations.”
Regardless of phase, businesses must first receive approval from the governor’s office (through proclamation or otherwise) to operate, and the remaining phases begin only after Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health determine COVID-19 risk indicators are in an acceptable range. The five dashboard indicators are:
- COVID-19 Disease Activity
- Risk to vulnerable populations
- COVID-19 testing capacity and availability
- Case and contact investigations
- Healthcare system readiness
The governor’s announcement also listed 10 Washington counties (Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Wahkiakum, Skamania, Kittitas, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Columbia, and Garfield) that, because of their current low infection rates and relatively low populations, may apply to move to phase two before other counties in the state.
Governor Inslee also announced that he would issue industry-specific (or workplace-specific) guidance and safety criteria for businesses as they begin to reopen. Employers may want to start outlining their reopening plans, anticipating continued requirements on social distancing, personal protective equipment, safety, training and other measures.