Retailers get ready for Phase 2 reopening

May 14, 2020
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

Retailers across Washington State should be preparing now to be ready to meet new coronavirus safety reopening standards approved by Governor Jay Inslee in consultation with Washington Retail Association.

The Phase 1 standards that pertain to curbside-only sales went into effect on May 8. Yesterday, the Governor’s office approved Phase 2 safety standards that could go into effect statewide as soon as May 26. The Governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy order is in effect through May 31.

As part of his gradual reopening plan, the Governor has approved retailers in eight rural counties to begin following the Phase 2 standards. The counties now allowed to greet customers inside their stores in a limited fashion include Wahkiakum, Skamania, Stevens, Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille.

The Phase 2 guidelines pertain to safety standards related to customer traffic management, sanitation, fitting rooms, in-store sit-down food and beverage services, malls and other shopping centers. They temporarily call for guest occupancy of no more than 30% of a store’s maximum occupancy as determined by applicable fire codes.

As part of these preparations, Washington Retail has prepared a detailed COVID Safety Operations Plan to act as a checklist of steps stores must take to operate as safely as possible for shoppers and employees.

Over the past several weeks, the Governor’s staff and the Department of Commerce have engaged WR as a stakeholder to finalize these safety requirements. We’re grateful for the cooperation we have received from the Governor and Commerce.

Throughout the discussions, shopper and employee safety have been and will remain Washington Retail’s top priority. Since the pandemic arrived here, Washington residents have shown a remarkable commitment to social distancing and hygiene while using personal protection to protect each other from illness and curb the spread of the disease. Most retailers have shown great sacrifice by closing as part of the response to the virus.

We are confident that retailers across the state are equally committed to honoring new performance standards so that they can continue contributing toward rebuilding Washington’s economy in a safe and responsible way. When the entire retail sector is prepared to meet this challenge by giving consumers the assurance that reopening our economy is gradual and well-thought out, customers will come back with confidence.