State gives Kitsap County the ‘OK’ to move on to Phase 2

The Washington State Department of Health has quickly approved Kitsap County’s variance application to move on to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan.

County health officials and the board of commissioners gave the go-ahead Wednesday afternoon and had submitted the application Wednesday evening.

The Kitsap Public Health District received notice Thursday morning from state Department of Health Secretary Jonathan Wiesman that the application had been approved.

Phase 2 allows for the reopening of dine-in service at restaurants — with no more than 50 percent capacity and five people at a table — and other businesses, such as hair and nail salons to resume operation. Outdoor recreational gatherings of up to five people outside of a person’s household are also now permitted.

Remaining manufacturing, office-based businesses, pet grooming, real estate and in-store retail purchases (with some restrictions) are also allowed in Kitsap.

High-risk groups of people — those aged 65 or older or those with underlying medical conditions — are still strongly encouraged to limit their participation in activities and business services that resume in Phase 2.

The variance application was approved on the condition that the county is required to monitor the pandemic for any signs of outbreaks or more widespread COVID-19 transmission. KPHD will be required to report such activity immediately to the state department of health within six hours of notification.

Businesses that wish to reopen may only do so after they can implement Washington’s “Safe Start” guidelines, as set forth by the governor’s office.

Wiesman said in his letter to the county that no authorization to move on to Phase 3 will be given without at least a three-week monitoring period, meaning the earliest Kitsap can move on to Phase 3 is in mid-to-late June.

The variance can be revoked if circumstances in Kitsap change, such as a large-scale transmission, a large deficit of COVID-19 testing or PPE supplies, inadequate contact tracing or other significant concerns. The governor also retains the right to place greater restrictions, Wiesman added.