Clark County’s restaurants and hair salons will be able to open their doors back up, albeit with restrictions, as the county’s application to move into the second phase of “Safe Start Washington” has been approved.
The county received word from Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman that it had been approved to move to Phase 2 Today, June 5, a release from the county stated. The change is effective immediately, and allows for the reopening of a number of businesses as well as some small gatherings.
Clark County Council Vice Chair John Blom was pleased to see the county move into the second of four phases to reopening the state, “(b)ut this doesn’t mean we’re back to business as usual," he said. "Gathering sizes are still limited and businesses must take steps to protect the health of their employees and customers.”
In Phase 2 restaurants can resume dine-in business at half capacity with parties of five or fewer, and retail stores are allowed to have in-store purchases with restrictions. Hair and nail salons, barbershops, real estate, pet grooming and new construction were also allowed in the phase, the release noted, with businesses following industry-specific guidance issued by the governor.
Small gatherings with five or fewer individuals from outside respective households can also resume, as can all outdoor recreation that doesn’t pass five people, the release noted, giving examples of camping and visiting beaches.
Clark County initially applied for a Phase 2 variance May 22, though the next day the application was put “on pause” due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver. As of latest Clark County Public Health numbers, 132 individuals were identified in the outbreak, both workers and close contacts of workers.
A second outbreak at Pacific Crest Building Supply in Ridgefield has also been reported, with Public Health saying five individuals at the business had tested positive for the disease as of June 3.
At the request of Wiesman, Clark County submitted a revised application June 2 that took into account data from the Firestone outbreak, receiving approval three days later.
Clark County will have to wait three weeks before it can apply to move into Phase 3, the release stated, and must meet a number of metrics such as case numbers, hospital and testing capacity, outbreaks and contact tracing measures to be approved.
Clark County Health Officer and Public Health Director Alan Melnick reminded that residents should still be taking precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 while they begin to resume activities outside the home.
“The virus hasn’t gone away. We need to stay vigilant to prevent COVID-19 transmission from increasing in our community,” Melnick said.