OLYMPIA — Washington zoos will be able to reopen outdoor exhibits and allow people back under limited capacity during the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-part coronavirus recovery plan.
Zoos with safety plans can reopen immediately, as long as they are in a county already approved for the plan’s second phase. according to guidance released Tuesday by Inslee’s office. Neither Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle nor Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma are in counties cleared to proceed to the second phase.
The guidelines say zoos can only reopen outdoor exhibits, with their crowd capacity capped at 25%.
The guidance also requires those establishments to use phone or online reservations and only take payments with credit cards to limit the exchange of cash.
Among other things, zoos will have to regularly disinfect common surfaces like doorknobs, bathrooms, counter tops and employee equipment. And they will have to post signs discouraging people from congregating in groups.
Beverage and food services will have to follow the guidelines now in place for delivery, curbside pickup and dine-in restaurants. Vending machines can be used if sanitation wipes are made available for customers, as well as garbage receptacles for them nearby.
Twenty-one counties — most of them outside the Puget Sound region — now have been cleared by state health officials to proceed to the second phase of the reopening.
Those counties are: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whitman.
State health officials have said June 1 is the date that most counties would move to the second phase of the plan, if public-health data looks favorable.
But it remains to be seen whether King, Snohomish and other counties with high infection rates for COVID-19 will be cleared to move to the second phase by then.
Inslee’s stay-at-home order, intended to slow the spread of the virus, remains in effect through May 31.