Thurston County

Thurston County commissioners push to move into Safe Start phase three

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THURSTON COUNTY –– The Thurston County Board of Commissioners met Wednesday morning to approve a request to the state to allow Thurston County to move forward into phase three of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan. 

Phase three of the plan allows counties to resume gatherings of 50 people, non-essential travel and the expansion of what businesses can open and how. Commissioners adopted the measure after the county board of health passed it in their meeting earlier in the morning. 

Under phase three, restaurants and taverns can open with less than 75 percent capacity and no more than 10 people can be seated at a table. Bars, too, can open at 25 percent capacity, and movie theaters can open at 50 percent capacity. Telecommuting for government offices is encouraged, according to city officials. 

Schelli Slaughter, Thurston County Health & Social Services director, clarified during the Wednesday morning meeting that some local businesses in small spaces will have to accommodate a six-foot distance between customers in their business.

“When we talk about less than 75 percent of capacity, [that] includes having measures that allow for physical distancing of six feet between people,” Slaughter said. “If you have a small facility, 75 percent of capacity may not be attainable because you still need to keep people at six feet of distance.”

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency Feb. 29 over the coronavirus pandemic and extended the state of emergency through May, establishing the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” initiative that required many to stay home. In May, the governor announced how counties can apply to re-open their economies through the Safe Start plan. Thurston County moved into phase two on May 27. 

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