Roadmap to Recovery for Businesses

an overview of the new 2021 state re-opening plan

This series of articles explores the effects of COVID-19 on the local creative economy and the plans for reopening and safe operation throughout the various industries within the sector.  This article is an overview, and the following articles are also available:

Event Venues Included in New Statewide Recovery Plan

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a new regional phased recovery plan for COVID-19. “Healthy Washington–Roadmap to Recovery” will begin next week on January 11 with all regions beginning in Phase 1. For creative

Current Phase Guidelines

King County began Phase 1 on the “Healthy Washington – Road to Recovery” on January 11, 2020. Continuing to take precautions is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.

7 Data Dashboards

You’ll find here some of the critical data dashboards that are being used for decision-making, including virus activity, economic activity, education, employment, and more.

Workplace Safety

Five key workplace safety practices are required for all employers. Employees must practice social distancing, mask up, wash their hands. Workplaces must be sanitized, have a posted plan for worker illness, and include employee education.

Event Venues Included in New Statewide Recovery Plan

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a new regional phased recovery plan for COVID-19. “Healthy Washington–Roadmap to Recovery” will begin next week on January 11 with all regions beginning in Phase 1. For creative

Current Phase Guidelines

King County began Phase 1 on the “Healthy Washington – Road to Recovery” on January 11, 2020. Continuing to take precautions is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.

7 Data Dashboards

You’ll find here some of the critical data dashboards that are being used for decision-making, including virus activity, economic activity, education, employment, and more.

Event Venues Included in New Statewide Recovery Plan

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced a new regional phased recovery plan for COVID-19. “Healthy Washington–Roadmap to Recovery” will begin next week on January 11 with all regions beginning in Phase 1. For creative

Current Phase Guidelines

King County began Phase 1 on the “Healthy Washington – Road to Recovery” on January 11, 2020. Continuing to take precautions is crucial to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to resume normal economic activity.

7 Data Dashboards

You’ll find here some of the critical data dashboards that are being used for decision-making, including virus activity, economic activity, education, employment, and more.

A Major Blow to the Creative Economy

After closing companies, canceling events, ceasing production, and shuttering cultural spaces and venues for long periods of time, COVID nearly destroyed the creative economy.

Since then, many creative businesses and organizations were able to start re-emerging in some form along with the rest of the local economy. However, many were also never able to establish new lines of business or safe ways to reopen.

As the winter has plunged us not just back into darkness and cold, but back into lockdown as well, many businesses have closed again or curtail even their limited operations for now.

However, the Governor has pointed out some light at the end of the tunnel with the new recovery plan.  “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” was released at the beginning of the year, to begin on January 11 and describing the metrics, regions and process of reopening for various business types.

Most notably, live entertainment is no longer prohibited as it had been most of last year. Activity is still limited in number and venue type, but at least the plan now has room for some live performance to resume.

For quick reference:

  • Read the Governor’s article about the plan here.
  • Read the full Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan here.
  • Read the full proclamation here.
  • Updated guidance for businesses and employees available here.

Evaluating the Impact

Still with a long way yet to go, COVID continues to wreak havoc on the creative economy locally and throughout the world.  The Independent Artist Sustainability Effort assessed an impact of almost $1.7M on local individual artists just in the first month.  

ArtsFund figured more than $74.1M lost revenues at arts and cultural organizations through May, and a more recent snapshot in October showed that 73% of arts organizations had laid off workers, and that the amount of the workforce laid of varied dramatically with an average of at least a third.  

Finally, a survey by Washington Filmworks found that the trend was even more dramatic statewide and across the sector, with 70% of creative workers statewide experiencing a loss of work or had switched from employment to self-employment in 2020.

Still other studies are still working to estimate the effects on local music, filmmaking and other creative sectors, but it is clearly evident that the pandemic’s economic effects are devastating to the creative industries, affecting the majority of the workers and businesses within the sector negatively, and many of them severely so.

The new Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery

Back in May of last year, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued the “Safe Start” approach to reopening our economy, which was planned to roll out in four phases applied county-by-county.

At the top of 2021, after all the advancement in understanding COVID, and after the Safe Start approach was stymied by surging case numbers, Gov. Inslee issued a new recovery plan.  “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” re-cast the strategy as a new phased regional recovery plan, with everyone starting in Phase 1 for now.

“Washington has avoided overwhelming the state’s health care systems throughout the pandemic so far through rigorous safety measures,” reads a release from the State, “This new recovery system aims to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity, ensuring care for Washingtonians that need it, and paving the way for economic recovery.

Emergency Medical Service Regions

 

The Puget Sound region is one of eight Emergency Medical Service regions that are otherwise made of four or more counties, divided according to available health care services and metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.

With all regions starting in Phase 1, the restrictions will not fundamentally change for the most part, with a few key exceptions, including outdoor entertainment.

Outdoor Entertainment Opening and Other Activity Guidance

Outdoor entertainment venues are permitted to reopen in Phase One, including zoos, outdoor theaters and concert venues and rodeos, among other outdoor venues.  Operation must be by ticketed event only with groups of 10 and with a limit of two households.  Timed ticketing is required as well as face coverings and physical distancing.

Indoor gatherings and dining remain prohibited.  Outdoor dining is allowed at a max of 6 and limited to two households per table with an 11:00 PM close.  Indoor fitness has also been allowed to reopen with limitations.

Retail, worship services, personal services, and professional services — where remote work isn’t available—are limited to 25% capacity.

Phase 2 will extend the opening to indoor arts, culture and entertainment venues (at 25% capacity) and grow the maximum limit on attendance for outdoor events.

Metrics for moving to Phase 2

A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four metric requirements. The final metrics for regions will be calculated on Friday, January 8 and will be effective January 11.

To go forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four metrics:

  • Decreasing trend intwo-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • Decreasing trend intwo-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19)of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

  • Decreasing or flat trend intwo-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population
  • Decreasing or flat trend intwo-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population
  • ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19)of less than 90%
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%.

Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.

The metrics for each region will be updated on the Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. Dependent on a region’s metrics, DOH will move into a new phase — forward or backward — the following Monday.

DOH and local health departments reserve the right to move a region outside of this timing, and additional phases may be added as the state’s COVID-19 situation changes with continued vaccine distribution and other changes in public health response.

“Our goal is to reopen our economy safely, and to do it as quickly as possible. Every week, we plan on tracking our ongoing progress in protecting our communities against COVID-19,” said Secretary of Health Umair Shah. “The governor’s new plan will allow all of us to understand what measures are being used for the path forward including when it makes sense to ease restrictions across the state.”

 

Re-Opening Guidance for Employers

While the new recovery plan includes more room for live events and other creative sector activity, business must adhere to the guidelines, which include specific occupancy and operation requirements, outlined by region and phase. They also must follow prevention protocols as required by the Department of Labor and Industries

Some examples include the following:

  • Any food or beverage related business remains closed for dine-in service in phase 1.  Outdoor, open-air and to-go service are permitted, provided they comply with requirements found here.  Phase 2 allows indoor dining with restrictions.
  • Museums may be open, using reservation systems with timed ticketing to limit interactions. Private rentals/tours are allowed during phase 1 but only for up to 6 people in the entire facility.  No general admission or events otherwise, until phase 2 when capacity will be limited to 25% (applied at the level of any individual room).
  • Drive-in theaters are required to develop at each establishment, a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation, and recovery plan which must be adhered to. A site-specific COVID-19 monitor shall be designated to monitor the health of individuals and enforce the job site safety plan.
  • Motion Picture Production is permitted to operate, so long as they adopt a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan that must be adhered to. A site-specific monitor shall be designated at each location to monitor health of individuals and enforce the protocols.
  • Theaters and Performing Arts are permitted to resume, with considerable limitations.  During Phase 1, outdoor ticketed events of up-to 2 hours in length are allowed with masked groups of up to 10, physically distanced from other groups. This allowance expands in capacity for phase 2, and adds indoor venues as well.  Phase 2 indoor events will be limited to the lesser of 25% capacity or 200 people, in masked groups of up-to 6, physically distanced from other groups.

Check all of the various industry guidance documents by business type on the governor’s website

Information about the specifics of our current phase in King County, along with the recent statewide restrictions in November are available in the Current Recovery Phase Guidelines article.

Additional workplace safety information, including face covering guidelines, is available on their Business & Workers page.  And the State Department of Health also provides guidance and information for businesses, non-profits, service providers, health providers and others. 

Immediate questions about your health?
King County Public Health Hotline 
206-477-3977

en_USEnglish