Update, 2:50 p.m. Jan. 28: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston and three other counties will be able to relax some COVID-19 restrictions on businesses starting Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a 2:30 p.m. news conference Thursday. Read more here.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is set Thursday to announce adjustments to public-health metrics that will allow some reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said Wednesday night.
Billig, a Democrat from Spokane, made the remarks Wednesday night in a virtual town hall streamed on Facebook.
“I’ve been able to work and talk with the governor quite a bit in the last week or so,” Billig said during the town hall.
“For those that are on this call, you’re going to get a little special early news, which is there is going to be an announcement tomorrow by the governor to adjust the metrics,” said Billig. “And there will be some additional flexibility.”
Billig didn’t discuss any of the details, he said, “because I think he’s still working out the final step.”
“But I think for those that are looking for just a little bit more opening, and to do it safely, I think you’ll be glad with what you hear tomorrow,” he said later.
An email to Inslee’s office seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.
Billig in his remarks credited both Spokane and the state for being among the safest places around the nation during the pandemic.
“It’s because we’re wearing masks, and we’re following the social distancing guidelines, because our governor has done a good job making decisions,” Billig said. “But because of that, now we’re able to do a little additional opening.
Throughout the pandemic, Inslee has used emergency powers to keep Washington among the most restricted states to curb the spread of COVID-19. The state has seen some of the fewest deaths and cases per 100,000 across the nation.
But that has also left business owners struggling. Under the governor’s latest reopening plan announced earlier this month, none of Washington’s eight regions have been able to progress to a second and less restrictive phase.
That two-part Healthy Washington blueprint requires that Washington’s 39 counties, which are grouped into eight regions, work together to curb the spread of COVID-19 before moving into a broader reopening.
Inslee ordered new restrictions on Nov. 15, which have since been extended. Among those restrictions, restaurants and bars had to shutter indoor service and limit their outdoor service to five or fewer people.
The governor has faced pressure from conservatives and some business owners to allow some reopening.