Retailers in Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties will roll back tomorrow to stricter Phase 2 recovery protocols announced earlier this week by Governor Jay Inslee.
While most retailers are operating at 50% capacity with Phase 3 status in the state’s pandemic recovery program, stores in the three affected counties will have to roll back to 25% capacity as earlier in the health crisis.
Before Inslee announced the rollback, Washington Retail joined nearly 70 business organizations in sending a letter to Inslee urging him to first continue the state’s vaccination campaign for three more weeks before considering whether to make changes. The business coalition believes continuing the distribution of vaccines will more effectively reverse rising COVID-19 caseloads than targeted tightening of safety protocols.
The rollback restricts stores, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues alike by reducing operating capacity, and therefore, opportunities to generate sales. The state is currently deciding which phase retailers are in on a county-by-county basis.
All Washingtonians age 16 and over become eligible for the vaccine this week. The state has so far fully vaccinated about 1 in 5 of the state’s 7 million residents.
Meanwhile, Inslee has yet to announce whether his three-phase recovery program includes mores phases. As a result, retailers are uncertain what additional safety steps they may need to take to return to pre-pandemic operations.