Governor Jay Inslee this week unveiled a gradual state economic recovery plan from his coronavirus-related Stay Home Stay Healthy order scheduled to expire on May 4.
Despite building pressure from legislators and businesses to begin lifting restrictions that have contributed to widespread unemployment and a fall back into recession, Inslee has only hinted that limited businesses and activity could resume on May 4 without a total removal of his order. He has identified elective surgeries, reopening of public outdoor recreational activity and some unspecified construction as activities that could return first with proper social distancing a continuing expectation.
Over the past several weeks, Washington Retail has worked to develop a detailed plan to safely reopen many closed retailers currently deemed as “non-essential” under the current order. Thousands of department stores, small businesses and specialty retailers who are the life blood of their local communities are currently closed. The line between “essential” and “non-essential” designations is now leading to significant upheaval and unintended consequences within the retail sector.
The six-point plan rests upon health screening, facial coverings, social distancing, adaptive management and safe shopping guidelines and best practices for employees and customers.
WR’s goal is to accomplish a gradual, phased-in reopening of the retail sector as soon as possible, that may vary by location and type of business in cooperation with state health authorities. The plan which will be shared in the coming week, would be adaptable to change based upon emerging data and information on the effectiveness of protective measures.
Inslee has announced that he will appoint three leadership groups in the coming days and weeks to assist him on reopening the economy. The groups will advise Inslee on public health and the state’s health care system; economic recovery; and a safe return to work. Since issuing and later extending the stay-home order, Inslee has said the virus still is causing too many deaths to relax restrictions that would risk more people mixing without practicing social distancing.
Still, Inslee has credited residents with complying with the order and practicing social distancing that he says he leveled out the upward curve that measures infection rates. Reopening the economy is not a matter of if, but when. Retailers are committed to continuing to protect citizens against the spread of this deadly virus while returning employees to work as quickly as possible. Transitioning away from “essential” and “non-essential” definitions to standards-based criteria will continue to promote health and safety in all retailer settings.