Current Safe Start Phase Guidelines

This is one article in the series on Safe Business Operations from the Health and Safety Handbook.  Be sure to check out our other articles and posts from this section:

King County & Phase Two

King County applied and was accepted for Phase 2 on Friday, June 19.  That means the following:

  • Limited social gatherings may now be held with five or fewer people outside your household. 
  • Outdoor recreation allowed (also with 5 or fewer people outside your household), including camping, beach-going, hunting, fishing, golfing, boating and hiking
  • Indoor and outdoor spiritual or religious services with up to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 individuals.
  • Manufacturing, construction, real estate, pet grooming, domestic services, personal services, and small group fitness are allowed.
  • Photography, restaurants, galleries and other retailers can once again serve customers, all at limited capacity.

Most businesses will be required to operate at reduced capacity and hours, and all will be required to follow state guidelines designed to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers. These call for social distancing, regular hand washing and, with few exceptions, wearing cloth masks. 

Continuing to take these precautions is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.

The full list of reopening requirements is available on the County Safe Start website.

A New Lockdown in November

With rising rates of infection, hospitalization and mortality throughout the country, including Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee issued new restrictions on November 16.  Starting with four weeks, with the potential for extension, the safe start rules will be adjusted slightly, and no matter what phase a county is in, the following restrictions are applied statewide:

  • Indoor social gatherings are prohibited with people outside the household, unless 14 days quarantine beforehand or 7-days quarantine and a negative COVID test within 48 hours before the gathering.
  • Restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service.  Outdoor dining and takeout may continue but table size is limited to 5.
  • All retail, including grocery stores and personal services limited to 25% occupancy.
  • Religious services limited to 25% occupancy or no more than 200 (whichever is fewer).  No choir, band or ensemble performances and no congregational singing.  Face coverings required at all times.
  • Fitness facilities and gyms are closed for indoor operations. Outdoor activity permitted within outdoor gathering restriction (5 people).
  • Bowling alleys, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters will all be fully closed for indoor services.

More details available in Governor Inslee’s article on Medium.  

Looking Ahead to Phases Three and Four


As of November, King County has returned to unchecked growth in the number of cases, delaying any additional stages until at least the beginning of the year and likely longer.  However, if we can get the virus under control, we can look forward to moving into Phase 3 then, and even possibly Phase 4 by spring of 2021.  

When approved, Phase 3 will allow gatherings up to 50 people, theaters at 50% capacity, openings at libraries and museums, and full opening of other retail and office environments.

Additionally, the state is working on special rules and allowances for performing arts and events, hopefully to be released by the end of the year.

Eventually, Phase 4 will then open gatherings beyond 50 people and for the first time allow the opening of nightclubs, concert venues, large sporting events and festivals.

Until there is a vaccine or other widely available intervention that can slow the spread or cure the dangerous elements of the disease otherwise, social distancing and other precautions are very likely to continue well into 2021 no matter what Phase we are in.

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