Social gatherings for Phase 3 in Washington counties to be limited to 10

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced revised coronavirus restrictions, limiting indoor and outdoor social gatherings for counties in the third phase of a four-stage reopening plan to 10, down from 50.

And he warned that additional rollbacks could occur, even a potential return to a stay-at-home order, if current trends continue.

The restriction on gatherings for the 17 counties in Phase 3, including Asotin, Whitman and Garfield counties, takes effect Monday. It does not apply to spiritual services, weddings and funerals at this time. Under the Democratic governor’s new directive, all live indoor and outdoor entertainment will also be banned at that time.

Inslee said if the trends continue, officials would have to look at potential further restrictions, including bars, indoor dining at restaurants, bowling alleys and other recreational activities. Health Secretary John Weisman said the state is starting to see the impact of the 4th of July weekend, as well as other social gatherings, including birthday parties and cocktail parties.

The latest order comes just days after Inslee announced that a statewide pause for counties looking to advance from their current stage of economic reopening — already in place for two weeks — will continue though at least July 28.

Phase 3 allows gyms and movie theaters to operate at half capacity and restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. A prohibition on bar seating at restaurants and taverns was added in this phase earlier this month.

Last week, an enhanced statewide order took effect that requires businesses to refuse service to customers who don’t wear facial coverings. That order builds on previous mask requirements issued last month. (AP)

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