Clark County has been approved to apply for a variance to move into Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the new criteria for larger counties to move into the second phase at a press conference Tuesday morning. It marks a major step toward reopening the county. Many new businesses would be allowed to open again, once the variance is approved.
Adams, Spokane, Mason, Thurston, Lewis, Clallam, Kitsap, Jefferson and San Juan counties have also been approved to for an expedited return.
To be approved for the second phase, counties need to show they have hospital capacity to handle a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Clark County has minimal strain on its hospital systems currently. Only seven people are hospitalized for the virus, according to statistics from May 15.
In Phase 2, barbershops, hairstylists and tattoo artists could return to work. Restaurants could reopen at 50 percent capacity, with table sizes no larger than five people. Bar areas would remain closed.
Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whitman counties have already been approved to move into Phase II.
Inslee has said that all counties could move into Phase 2 as soon as June 1 if the case metrics were trending in a positive direction.