By Snohomish County Health District and contributions from Lynnwood Times staff, Mario Lotmore
- Updated 2:03 p.m.: Added Lynnwood Councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby’s statement
- Update: 1:56 p.m.: Added Phase 2 does and don’t graphic released by the Snohomish Health District
- Update, 1:35 p.m.: Added Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring’s statement
- Update, 12:45 p.m.: Added Lynnwood Councilwoman Shannon Session’s statement
- Update, 12:18 p.m.: Added Lynnwood Councilman Jim Smith’s statement
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., June 5, 2020 – Snohomish County and the Snohomish Health District received notification from Secretary of Health John Wiesman today that their Phase 2 variance application has been approved. The official approval letter is available online, and is effective immediately.
Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved 14 counties to move into the next phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.
Clark, Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties are approved to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. King County was approved to move into a modified version of Phase 1. Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties are approved to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.
A total of five counties are in Phase 1, one county is in a modified version of Phase 1, 26 counties are in Phase 2 and seven counties are in Phase 3.
“Snohomish County can now start reopening our businesses and get more people back to work,” said Executive Somers.
“During a pandemic, every step forward must be done carefully, and I am thankful for the work each of us throughout our community has done to get us here today. As we transition into the next phase we must remain vigilant to maintain social distancing and necessary sanitation practices to keep our communities healthy and help our economy recover as quickly as possible. I would like to thank Governor Inslee and Secretary Wiesman for their support in moving Snohomish County to Phase 2. It’s vital that each of our businesses and every county resident carefully review and adhere to the guidance for Phase 2. We still have a ways to go, but this is a first, positive step in the right direction.”
“Our businesses and residents are ready to safely get back to work, and the transition to Phase II will help do just that,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Nate Nehring. “Our local economy needs this boost, and I’m grateful for the bipartisan effort at the local level to advocate for safe reopening.”
In a statement to the Lynnwood Times, Nehring continued, “This is good news for our local businesses who have been struggling during the shutdown. While it is a good step in the right direction, we must continue to be diligent in doing everything we can to support our businesses, workers, and families in the economic recovery ahead.”
Councilman Sam Low shared a similar sentiment in a Facebook post today, “Please get out safely and help our small businesses as they try to recover and hire employees back.”
Local leadership weigh in on the approval
Lynnwood Councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby
“The reopening of businesses during Phase 2 is wonderful news,” said Councilwoman Julieta Altamirano-Crosby. “Citizens and business owners must adhere to the guidance provided by the Washington state government and Department of Health.”
Lynnwood Councilman George Hurst
“The approval allowing Snohomish County and our City to move into Phase 2 is an important first step towards the economic recovery of our region,” said Lynnwood City Councilman George Hurst. “It is also an acknowledgement of the extra effort by members of our community to stay strong and united against the Covid-19 pandemic. The same commitment is needed for the next three weeks so a transition is possible to Phase 3.”
“For now we still need to stay safe and careful but this is one ray of hope in a troubling time.”
Lynnwood Councilwoman Shannon Sessions
“Wahoooo!! That’s fantastic news! Learning details on how our health and public safety agencies have prepared us for this, I am confident that Lynnwood and our County are ready for this next phase,” said Lynnwood Councilwoman Shannon Sessions.
“I encourage the community to please follow basic safety protocols while starting to enjoy and patronize all of our wonderful businesses as they transition into this new normal; so we can stay open and move forward. #buylocal #shoplynnwood”
Lynnwood Councilman Jim Smith
In a telephone response to the Lynnwood Times, Lynnwood Councilman Jim Smith said, “It pleases me that local health and county officials are putting their faith in the public to be safe and healthy. I am very pleased we are opening up and for a safe gradual return to normalcy. The people and business owners of Lynnwood are smart and responsible. I put my faith in the people of Lynnwood to do the right thing.”
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson
“I am pleased that the state public health officials are comfortable with our reopening,” said Jennifer Gregerson, Mukilteo Mayor. “I encourage our residents and employees to wear masks and practice good hygiene.”
“As businesses reopen and get ready to reopen, I hope our entire community comes out to support them in safe ways. Our businesses need our support right now.”
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring
In a Facebook post today, Mayor Jon Nehring said, “A short time ago, we received word that the state has approved Snohomish County’s variance application to move into phase 2 of the state reopening plan. This is following a strong, bi-partisan push for this last week. Thank you to so many citizens and small businesses who have sacrificed so much to get us here. It is only a start but an important one. Please support local businesses in every way possible in their efforts to safely reopen!”
Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce
“With the advancement of Snohomish County to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan, the Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to a strong and healthy recovery for the business community,” said Linda Jones, President/CEO of the Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce.
Editors note: The Lynnwood Times has sent requests for comment to all city leadership. The article will be updated as we receive their responses.
Phase 2 Guidelines
Now that the plan has been approved, Snohomish County businesses authorized to open in Phase 2 may do so as long as they are able to meet their industry-specific health and safety guidelines. General questions about how to comply with the agreement practices can be submitted to the state’s Business Response Center at https://coronavirus.wa.gov/how-you-can-help/covid-19-business-and-worker-inquiries.
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of many, we are well-positioned for the next phase here in Snohomish County,” said Stephanie Wright, Chair of the Board of Health and Vice Chair of the County Council. “We need to proceed carefully as a community to ensure cases remain low so that we can continue on this phased re-opening path.”
The Washington State Department of Health recently launched a risk assessment dashboard. Individuals can see data at the county- and state-level relating to the metrics used to determine readiness to move between phases. The Snohomish Health District will also be reporting out on its progress on a weekly basis moving forward.
“We appreciate the time and thoughtful consideration that Secretary Wiesman and his team put into reviewing our proposal, and are glad to hear that they agree that we have the plans and processes in place to move forward,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “We will be closely monitoring the data and metrics to ensure we are able to accommodate the potential increase in cases, and adapt as needed, as we begin to open Snohomish County back up.”
What does it mean?
While Phase 2 does re-open some businesses and activities, there are still restrictions in place that residents should be aware of. In Phase 2, general guidelines include:
- Gatherings with no more than 5 people from outside your household per week. This includes outdoor recreation like camping, hiking or beach trips.
- High-risk populations – such as people older than 60, those with underlying health conditions, or pregnant women – should continue to stay home aside from essential business and errands.
- Non-essential travel will be limited to activities that are approved to reopen under Phase 2, and those will come with health and safety guidance to follow. For example, restaurants could reopen at limited on-site capacity, with appropriate social distancing, no more than five customers per table, and no bar-area seating.
- For people who can continue to work remotely, teleworking is strongly encouraged.
Beginning June 8, all employees will be required to wear a cloth facial covering, except when working alone in an office, vehicle, or at a job site, or when the job has no in-person interaction. Employers must provide cloth facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection based on safety and health rules and guidance from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). Refer to L&I’s Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask Requirements for additional details. Employees may choose to wear their own facial coverings at work, provided it meets the minimum requirements.
Employers must also post signage at their place of business strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth facial coverings. Businesses are encouraged to require customers to wear cloth facial coverings, in order to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
Phase 2 Business Toolkit
The City of Everett, in partnership with the Snohomish Health District, has developed a toolkit to help small businesses begin to navigate Phase 2. This resource can help guide business owners as they create a safe reopening plan and welcome back customers in the coming days and weeks. Visit www.everettforeverett.com/safeopening for more info and links to signage, or click here to download the “Getting to Safe” guide.