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Clark County approved for immediate Phase 2 reopening

Clark County was approved for Phase 2 of reopening by the state Department of Health on Friday morning, and the county is allowed to immediately start following Phase 2 protocol.

That means that Clark County businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, nail salons, real estate, barbershops and some retail stores will be able to operate with certain capacity restrictions and safety precautions in place starting today.

Gatherings with up to five people from outside a household are also now allowed, as is camping.

The state has approved Clark County for the second phase along with 13 other Washington counties.

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman notified Clark County Public Health of the approval Friday morning, according to a news release from Public Health.

“I’m pleased to see Clark County move into Phase 2 of the reopening plan, allowing many of our businesses to reopen and our residents to get back to work,” said Clark County Council Vice Chair John Blom. “But this doesn’t mean we’re back to business as usual. Gathering sizes are still limited and businesses must take steps to protect the health of their employees and customers.”

Retail stores can now allow some in-person shopping, and restaurants can allow dine in service with 50 percent capacity and no table sizes larger than five people.

Churches, mosques and synagogues can resume in-person services in Phase 2 with up to 25 percent of the building’s capacity, or 50 worshipers, whichever is less, according to the Associated Press. It also allows up to five people for in-home services or counseling.

The county first applied for Phase 2 on May 22, but the application was put on pause a day later after a large coronavirus outbreak at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver was discovered.

Public Health’s containment efforts on the Firestone outbreak lead to low community transmission outside of Firestone employees and close contacts.

That effort appears to have helped the county’s Phase 2 application.

A tweet from Clark County Public Health emphasized that people should still follow physical distancing guidelines. Masks are also encouraged when people are inside in a public space, or can’t keep six feet of distance from others.

Clark County can apply for Phase 3 of the reopening plan after three weeks in Phase 2 if the county continues to make progress in stopping spread of COVID-19.

Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider immediately to seek testing, according to Public Health. This enables Public Health to isolate infected people and quarantine their close contacts. Doing this as quickly as possible helps prevent the virus from spreading.

“As people resume activities outside of the home, it’s important to continue taking precautions to keep yourself and others in the community healthy,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “The virus hasn’t gone away. We need to stay vigilant to prevent COVID-19 transmission from increasing in our community.”


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