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'Healthy Washington' unveiled as state's new phased reopening plan

State officials unveiled a plan to eventually ease rules on gatherings and businesses, taking a regional approach.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The state of Washington has unveiled its plan for a phased reopening and it's calling the program "Healthy Washington."

Governor Jay Inslee said as coronavirus conditions improve, counties will open in regional groups to move beyond the current phase one restrictions.

“We've learned a lot about COVID and this pandemic and we are adjusting to it as we go using the latest scientific information,” said Inslee at a news conference.

Clark County is joined by Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Skamania and Klickitat counties in the Southwest Region.

Phase 2 will allow indoor dining and fitness centers to open to 25% capacity. Also, more people will be able to go to weddings and funerals. Sport competitions will be allowed limited spectators as well.

It's the 25% indoor capacity affects Pat Dulin, owner and operator of Dulin’s Café in Vancouver.

“If I have 25% I just add one more server and I’m good to go- may not have to add one more in the kitchen, keep it as lean as I can,” said Dulin. “I’m just trying to make money on anything I can because I’m not real sure who’s gonna help or when it’s gonna come.”

Dulin's is staying open by cooking up takeout orders and serving some with limited sidewalk service.

“I'm staying afloat, my goal is to get to the other side of whatever this is."

Right now the dining room is a wide-open waiting area for people to pick up orders to go.

In order for that to change, COVID case rates will have to drop 10%. So will hospital admission rates. Intensive care units will have to be less than 90% full.

And the COVID test positivity rate will have to be under 10%.

That's a tall order right now-- and the Washington Association of Business pushed back against the new plan.

“This new plan is intended to offer a road map for reopening the economy, but it’s an incomplete map at best with a destination that remains out of reach for too many small businesses struggling to survive the pandemic,” wrote Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business.

Dulin's has a long history on Main Street in Vancouver's Uptown Village. Its owner knows he's more fortunate than many to survive into 2021.

“I'm hoping that the vaccine and all the things the medical expertise they've come up with in a year starts paying off pretty soon and there will be fewer people in hospital beds and getting the virus and we can hopefully move on,” said Dulin.  

It’s unclear exactly how soon southwest Washington might move into Phase 2. Some of the COVID numbers have been coming down. State officials plan to release its first regional assessments on Friday.