Washington state eases COVID-19 restrictions for Seattle region

Seven counties in Washington will be easing their COVID restrictions starting Monday.

Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that COVID-19 restrictions will be eased in seven counties in West Washington starting Monday. These include counties with technology centers like Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue, as well as Tacoma and Olympia.

Most of the state will remain in phase 1 lockdown conditions, while the seven counties will go into phase two.

Since early January, Washington’s counties have been grouped and rated by region to determine what business and recreational activities are allowed to help slow the spread of COVID. According to an updated plan, regions must meet certain criteria in three out of four metrics before moving on to a phase with fewer restrictions. These benchmarks include:

  • A decrease in the 14-day rate of new cases per 100,000 people.
  • A decrease in the 14-day rate of new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 people.
  • Less than 90% of the beds in the intensive care unit, over an average of seven days.
  • Less than 10% positivity rate for COVID tests averaged over seven days.

None of the state’s counties saw a decline in new cases, although the data compared is from late December compared to the first two weeks of January through January 16 due to delays in reporting.

The number of new cases in the state appears to be declining by the end of January. On January 16, the number of new COVID cases in Washington averaged 1,860 over seven days. The number on January 26, officially incomplete, was just over 1,000.

COVID metrics for regions in Washington state as provided by the governor’s office.

Under the rules of the second phase as set out in the Governor’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery, companies can resume limited indoor services. Some of the most notable changes are:

  • Indoor dining with 25% capacity and alcohol service until 11 p.m.
  • Gyms with 25% capacity.
  • Reopening of indoor theaters, concert halls, aquariums, etc. with a capacity of 25% or a maximum of 200 people.
  • Indoor social gatherings for up to five people outside a household and outdoor social gatherings for up to 15 people, limited to two households.

Regions are assessed every two weeks and return to the first phase if they no longer meet the criteria for at least three categories.

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