By Joseph Claypoole
WNPA News Service
All counties are eligible for Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington reopening plan on March 22.
Inslee made the announcement on March 11 following a downward trend in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations across the state over the past month.
“The reason we are able to make this progress is because we have been safe, we have been diligent and we have cared about our loved ones and ourselves,” Inslee said.
The reopening of outdoor sporting events, increased vaccine eligibility, and economic improvements were the highlights of Inslee’s press conference.
Outdoor venues are able to open at 25% capacity which includes major league sports like the Mariners and Sounders as well rodeos, motorsports and other outdoor events.
High school and youth sports are opening up to 25% capacity starting March 18.
However, Inslee said that all of these events are conditional on continued social distancing and mask protocols amongst attendees.
Indoor spaces can increase to 50% capacity. This includes restaurants, gyms and other indoor venues. The cutoff time for alcohol service is also being moved from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Inslee is also making an adjustment to his January reopening plan. Depending on the population, counties will have benchmarks they must meet that will decide whether they progress, move back, or stay in their current phase.
Inslee also urged everyone to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
“If you were eligible for a vaccine, you are still eligible,” Inslee said. “Please come get a vaccine.”
The announcement was then made that anyone in tier two of phase 1B in the Vaccinate WA plan was immediately eligible for a vaccine.
Included in that tier are high-risk critical workers who work in certain congregate settings, agriculture, food processing, grocery store workers, and remaining first responders. Individuals 16 and older who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high risk for a severe COVID-19 illness are also eligible.
More information on vaccine eligibility and county reopening can be found at governor.wa.gov.