Inslee Signs New COVID-19 Order for Phased Re-Opening of Washington’s Economy

Safe Start Washington – A Phased Approach to Recovery

May 4, 2020

Some businesses could re-open as early as this week under the new COVID-19 order signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today. The state’s “Safe Start” plan is a phased approach to re-opening Washington’s economy.

Under the plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide.

Safe Start sets a careful approach to emerging from the pandemic. It allows for modifications of business closures and physical distancing measures while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. 

“This phased approach to re-opening our economy will allow us to move forward with a careful and thoughtful balance of our state’s health and economic needs,” Inslee said. “However, if infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives.

“I fully recognize the impact this is having on families, workers and businesses, but we have not yet won the fight against this virus,” Inslee continued. “We continue to see infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the state from COVID-19.” 

While Stay Home, Stay Healthy is being extended to the end of May, the governor announced his Safe Start plan which amends some components of the original order and allow for a start to re-open the state. 

Through the Washington “Safe Start” plan, more businesses and activities would re-open in phases with adequate social distancing measures and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.

Read the full Safe Start policy plan here.

Read the full story on the governor’s Medium page.

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Inslee announces plan to allow construction projects previously underway to be completed

April 24, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee, in consultation with the state’s construction industry, announced a plan today to allow current construction projects to be completed.

The recommendations were informed by workers, contractors, health and safety experts, and local government officials, for safe construction standards.

“I thank all those involved in the construction work group in helping us get to this decision in a responsible way that supports workers, businesses, and communities in a way that protects the health of all of their families and ours,” Inslee said. “Our strategy is working and we need to keep with it. We would much rather protect people from sickness and death now, so that we don’t have to go through this crisis all over again later.”

Read the full plan on the governor’s Medium page

Implementation of Phase 1 Construction Restart – Proclamation 20-25 PDF

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Inslee Announces Washington’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Washinton’s Recovery Plan: A Safe Return to Public Life

Gov. Jay Inslee spoke directly to Washingtonians Tuesday evening to lay out his vision for the eventual safe return to public life amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Inslee said it is unlikely many restrictions under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order will be modified before May 4. Rather, this plan is intended to be a framework for the loosening of restrictions contingent on a steady decrease of the spread of COVID-19.

“It will look more like the turning of the dial than the flip of a switch,” Inslee said in the address. “We’re going to take steps and then monitor to see whether they work or if we must continue to adapt.”

Depending on health projections for the spread of the virus, some distancing restrictions may be in place for weeks or months to come.

“In the coming days, we will receive additional health modeling projecting the course of this virus,” Inslee said. “We hope it will give us cause to begin lifting certain restrictions.”

The return to public life will occur in measured steps. It will be guided by science and informed by our public health needs, our ability to mitigate impacts, and the response of Washington communities.

The governor’s plan has three overriding goals:

Protect the health and safety of Washingtonians

The recovery plan begins with widely available testing for individuals who may have contracted COVID-19, tracing for those who have come into close contact with COVID-19 positive individuals, and isolation or quarantine for individuals who could transmit the virus.

However, a variety of barriers to accessing the necessary supplies have prevented Washington from processing more than 4,000 tests a day. For the contact-tracing plan to work, the state needs to be processing between 20,000 and 30,000 tests a day. Earlier Tuesday, the governor sent a letter to the vice president asking the White House to create a national testing system.

Facilitate a safe start and transition to economic recovery

Economic recovery depends on a healthy workforce. When aspects of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order are lifted, the state will provide guidelines so businesses can operate safely. Even after the order is lifted, workplaces will continue to look and operate differently until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Continued physical distancing, teleworking and other measures will continue to be necessary to keep workers and customers safe.

Support all people and communities

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected every Washingtonian in different ways. Many in the state will need some kind of assistance to recover. A safe return to public life will require increased social and emotional supports, food and housing security, educational and child care support, internet infrastructure and equitable access to services.

“We need to reckon with the reality that disparities in our communities mean not every family can recovery as quickly as others. Disparities in access have already been exposed in ways not seen in modern times,” Inslee said.

The plan also emphasizes the necessity that community leaders from across the state to work together to provide guidance for a safe and sustainable recovery for all Washingtonians. The governor will appoint three leadership groups to advise on public health, economic recovery and social supports.

“We are looking forward to making advances against this virus,” Inslee said. “Only science, data and informed reasoning can lift us out of this crisis.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected every Washingtonian in different ways. Many in the state will need some kind of assistance to recover. A safe return to public life will require increased social and emotional supports, food and housing security, educational and child care support, internet infrastructure and equitable access to services.

“We need to reckon with the reality that disparities in our communities mean not every family can recovery as quickly as others. Disparities in access have already been exposed in ways not seen in modern times,” Inslee said.

The plan also emphasizes the necessity that community leaders from across the state to work together to provide guidance for a safe and sustainable recovery for all Washingtonians. The governor will appoint three leadership groups to advise on public health, economic recovery and social supports.

“We are looking forward to making advances against this virus,” Inslee said. “Only science, data and informed reasoning can lift us out of this crisis.”

View the full Announcement here.

Watch the governor’s address here.

Policy brief: “Washington’s Recovery Plan