Restrictions imposed on King County businesses and residents are easing after state health officials approved a modified plan to reopen, Friday.

Although the county was not eligible to apply to enter the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase Safe Start Washington reopening plan, the modified Phase 1.5 allows certain recreational, social and business activities to resume in the county, although with some limitations.

As of Friday, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark, Okanogan, Skagit and Whatcom counties were approved by the state Department of Health to enter Phase 2, joining 20 other counties. Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties were the only ones still in Phase 1 as of Friday. Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum were approved to advance to Phase 3.

According to the governor’s Safe Start plan, which was released May 31, counties must stay in a new phase of reopening for at least three weeks before advancing to the next phase. Counties must meet a number of criteria based on different factors, including COVID-19 disease activity, before advancing. It is possible for counties to move to a previous phase at any time if they do not meet health and safety targets.

“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a release. “The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all. By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”

According to a release from King County Executive Dow Constantine, under modified Phase 1 guidelines:

Restaurants are permitted to provide indoor dining at 25 percent of capacity as long as tables and chairs are more than 6 feet from each other; and outdoor dining is allowed at 50 percent of capacity, with all tables and chairs set at the appropriate distances apart.

Nonessential in-store retail is allowed to return, but businesses cannot operate at more than 15 percent of capacity. They must also post signs encouraging indoor visits of less than 30 minutes.

People providing personal services, such as hairstylists, estheticians, manicurists and tattoo artists can resume activities but must limit the number of clients at one time to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person for single bed/chair studios.

People offering professional services such as accountants, attorneys, insurance agents, real estate agents and other office-based occupations may reopen to no more than 25 percent of capacity. Those businesses will also post signs encouraging visits of 30 minutes or less.

All construction, including new projects and activities where social distancing cannot be maintained, is now permitted, as are all Phase 2 outdoor recreation activities.

Social gatherings are only allowed outdoors with five or fewer people from outside the household.

Religious or faith gatherings are still following Phase 1 restrictions, and are only allowed to host outdoor services on the organization’s property or immediately adjacent with permission with up to 100 people in attendance, not including staff.

When King County advances to Phase 2, restrictions are eased further, mainly by increasing capacity at businesses. Restaurants, for example, will allow to operate at 50 percent capacity with tables seating no more than five people, but bar areas are still closed.

In Phase 2, religious or faith-based organizations are allowed to resume indoor services up to 25 percent capacity or 50 individuals, whichever is less, not including staff. In-home services or counseling is permitted with up to five total individuals.

King County still needs to improve in three of five metrics used to measure coronavirus risk to advance to Phase 2.

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