Retailers prepare for reopening

May 8, 2020
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

Weeks after closing their stores due to the coronavirus outbreak, retailers are pleased that the Governor is taking steps to reopen retail with careful safety measures required.

In cooperation with our members and public health authorities, Washington Retail has developed detailed procedures for stores to reopen safely for their customers and employees. We’ve also created a Retail to Go guide for retailers to reopen soon with limited curbside service.

We’re actively engaged in formulating safety protocols with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health, and the Governor’s office. These will be important guidelines for how stores can reopen in a manner that protects shoppers and employees alike.

Right now, virus-related news is developing quickly, sometimes by the hour. It is challenging for retailers to know exactly what they can do legally to begin recovering from the crisis.

WR and Governor Jay Inslee are optimistic that these safe and responsible protocols for reopening will be in place soon. Throughout these discussions, protecting retail employees and customers has been our top priority.

Like much of the state’s economy, many retailers have been hard hit financially. It will take a considerable period of time to recover from the impacts. The situation requires careful examination of how to protect public health while limiting the damage to our economy.

The phased guidelines will identify the actions needed for businesses deemed “non-essential” to reopen. Auto dealers, car washes and, stores featuring curbside service will reopen first under Phase 1 of Governor Inslee’s guidelines.

This week, we sent the Governor a letter that expressed optimism that retailers can soon move safely on to the broader Phase 2 operations. Here’s a chart showing the outlines of the Governor’s plan for a four-phase reopening.

In Phase 1, stores doing curbside service would reopen. Phase 2 would enable the reopening of in-store sales, as well as barbers and hair salons, restaurants, and offices. Washington Retail has proposed safety protocols to the Governor’s office for both reopening phases.

I want our members, and the retail community at-large across the state, to know that we are working closely with state officials to permit the safe and responsible reopening of stores. We appreciate the willingness of Governor Inslee and his team to work collaboratively with us to get retail up and running as quickly and safely as possible.