Top stories from Snohomish County’s COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday:
- How close the county is to launching the Phase 3 reopening.
- Ways restaurants are working to keep customers safe.
- County launches second round of COVID-19 small business grants.
We are now 10 days into Snohomish County’s Phase 2 reopening, and reporters during Tuesday’s briefing wanted to know — how soon will we move into phase 3? The short answer: not yet.
Both County Executive Dave Somers and Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said they need to develop more guidance before that happens. The county launched Phase 2 on June 5, and expects to remain in Phase 2 for a total of three weeks.
As long as there is “no significant” increase in new cases, hospitalizations or deaths, the county is working to create “the best case when that moment comes” to apply for Phase 3, Spitters said.
Here’s what Phase 3 would allow:
- Gatherings and outdoor sports activities for up to 50 people
- Libraries/museums open
- Restaurants open at at 75% capacity
- Tables up to 10 people
- Bars at 25% capacity
- Open at 50% capacity-
- Indoor gyms
- Movie theaters
- Public pools
- Non-essential travel
- Government offices
Phase 3 not allowed:
- Gatherings of more than 50 people
Personal health safety is critical to the reopening progress, both officials said, repeating the warning that the best tactics to avoid the virus are frequent hand washing, face coverings, 6-foot social distancing and staying home.
The county’s restaurants are battling to overcome the huge hit they’ve taken during the virus pandemic. In April, Snohomish County’s unemployment was the highest in the state at 20.2%. But in the restaurant sector statewide and in the county, unemployment hit nearly 50%.
Korey MacKenzie, Chief of Operations at Diamond Knot Brewing, is also chair of the county’s Public Health Advisory Council. MacKenzie says the virus has caused all restaurants to rethink how they are running their businesses, “adapting weekly, if not daily” to survive.
He told the briefing that restaurants now screen employees every day with specific questions about their physical condition as well as temperature checks.
Servers must wear cloth face coverings; guests are asked to do the same, but will not be asked to leave if they don’t wear a mask. At Diamond Knot, only one staffer will attend each table to clean it and serve. “Gone are the days when several people touched your food on the way to the table,” McKenzie said. All restaurant menus are single-use throwaway paper; hand sanitizer stations are throughout establishments; there are no condiments on the table and no salad bars. Many places have built walls around tables as a further separation.
MacKenzie says restaurant owners and staff have shown “tremendous spirit” during the virus and are committed to provide a safe environment.
County Executive Dave Somers told the briefing that his office has just launched applications for round 2 of small business grants. The money comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security’(CARES) Act. He expects the county to announce awards of the first round of grants by June 24. Any business that applied but did not get a first-round grant will automatically roll into the second round
Businesses wishing to apply should go to workforcesnohomish.org.
— By Bob Throndsen