By Marcy Stamper
People can now have a small dinner party or a barbecue, compete in sports, or go to a concert. The entire state entered Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery plan on Monday (March 22), which brings the state closer to “normal” life.
The latest guidance from Washington state allows indoor social gatherings with up to 10 people from outside your household. Outdoor gatherings can have up to 50 people.
Restaurants and bars can offer indoor seating at 50% capacity, with up to 10 people at a table. Tables still need to be 6 feet apart and there is no bar seating. Alcohol can’t be served after midnight.
The 50% capacity limit applies to many businesses, including personal services like hair salons and spas, retail shops and farmers markets. Professional services — lawyers, accountants and architects — can also operate at 50% capacity, but the state still strongly encourages people to work remotely.
Weddings and funerals and indoor receptions are allowed, following the guidelines for restaurants and similar venues.
Sports competitions — for low- and medium-risk sports — are permitted. Fitness centers can have up to 50% capacity (masks are required), and people can even take a shower after their workout.
If you enjoy watching sports, you can attend most competitions, indoors or out, with facility limits set at 400 people.
Museums and galleries, concerts, and theaters can also open at 50%, for up to 400 people. They still need to follow guidelines for distance between groups and people must wear masks, but you can just show up and buy a ticket — advance ticketing isn’t required.
If you’re vaccinated
People who are fully vaccinated — two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine — can gather indoors with other vaccinated people without a mask. They can even hang out with unvaccinated people from a single household, as long as those people don’t live with someone at high risk from COVID, according to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC still recommends avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. People should continue to wear masks in public places.
If a vaccinated person is exposed to an individual with COVID, the risk of disease is low. The vaccinated person doesn’t need to quarantine or be tested unless he or she develops COVID symptoms.
Okanogan County recorded 15 cases of COVID-19 in the week ending March 22, compared to 12 the previous week. There was one case in Methow — the first to be identified there. Deaths from COVID in the county are still at 34; there have been no new deaths from the disease since early February. One person from Okanogan County is being treated in the hospital.
There are currently 27 active cases in the county, less than half the active cases two weeks ago. The case rate per 100,000 over a two-week period continues to fall and is now 63.