The Road to Reopening: Washington’s Progression with COVID-19

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Just a few days ago, Governor Jay Inslee stated that he hopes for a lift of all COVID-19 restrictions by the end of June — maybe even sooner.

“Our state, most of our businesses, will stay at 50% capacity for most indoor activities. But on June 30, that will be lifted to go back to 100%,” he said at a live press conference on May 13.

Multiple counties have also initiated a gradual transition into Phase 3. Gov. Inslee stated that these series of decisions came after witnessing a significant decline in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations.

This arrangement means a lot for our schools. Earlier on the same day, the Washington DOH released updated guidance for the K-12 2021-2022 school year. Washington schools will be required to provide full-time in-person education for all K-12 students who are interested, with safety precautions still in place. Schools will need to follow all state health measures regarding school activities such as sports, camps, clubs and more.

The planned date of returning back to restriction-free guidelines could be established earlier if 70% of those eligible have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Currently, 57% of Washington state citizens over the age of 16 have had at least one dose and 43.67% are fully vaccinated.

Gov. Inslee has also announced that fully vaccinated people are not required to wear masks in most indoor spaces — including schools, prisons, homeless shelters, public transportation and long-term care facilities. Businesses will still have the legal right to enforce mask-wearing, or even require proof of full vaccination.

Despite these new regulations, returning to 100% capacity will not be an immediate or final action. If ICU capacity gets to 90% at any point, stricter restrictions will be reimplemented.

“We know we have a long ways to go to get enough people vaccinated to save our state, but this is a huge step forward. It is a new chapter in our fight against COVID,” Inslee states.