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Gov. Jay Inslee announces plans to reopen public recreation lands (April 27, 2020).

Changes announced with “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order & “Safe Start” plan

Yesterday, May 29th, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced updates to the Safe Start business resumption plan. In addition, he said the current Stay Home, Stay Healthy order would not be extended, instead it will be allowed to expire at midnight Sunday, May 31st.

Under the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, Washington residents were required to reduce in-person contact with those outside their own households to slow the spread of the COVID-19 disease spread by a novel coronavirus identified as 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2.

The Stay Home, Stay Safe order required every Washingtonian to stay at home, except for those:

  • pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment
  • getting takeout food (food deliveries also are permitted)
  • going to work at an essential business
  • going outside for walks and exercise, as long as physical distancing of 6 feet is maintained

Starting Monday, June 1st, any Washington state county, including Whatcom County, can apply to Washington State Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman to move to the next phase from the phase that they are currently in. Whatcom County is currently in Phase 1.

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4 Phases identified for reopening business and some areas of the state (May 1, 2020). Image: State of Washington
4 Phases identified for reopening business and some areas of the state (May 1, 2020). Image: State of Washington
Washington state Safe Start status by county as of May 28, 2020. Source: Governor Inslee’s office

Staff at the Whatcom County Health Department will prepare the necessary documents for the variance application. The Health Board will hold a special meeting early next week to discuss the variance application for Whatcom County to move into Phase 2 of Washington’s Phased Approach to reopening. The Whatcom County Council, acting as the Health Board, will approve the application before it is submitted.

Whatcom County Health Department (May 29, 2020)

Also under the update, beginning June 8th, all employees will be required to wear a cloth facial covering, except when working alone in an office, vehicle or at a job site or when the job has no in-person interaction. 

As we start to increases (sic) in travel, recreation, and economic activity, it is critical that we remain diligent in order to avoid a sharp increase in exposure. We will continue to closely monitor disease data to determine whether additional steps are needed to protect public health.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (May 29, 2020)


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On February 29th, Inslee declared a State of Emergency for all Washington counties due to the spread of COVID-19 disease.

On March 17th, all Washington state K-12 school buildings were closed.

On March 23rd, Inslee issued the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

On March 25th, non-essential businesses in Washington were required to cease operations.

April 2nd, the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order was extended through May 4th.

May 1st, the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order was extended through May 31st.

May 1st, the phased Safe Start plan was announced.

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