Co-sponsored by Muzzall, bill would speed up state reopening

The bill would allow indoor dining, gyms and social gatherings to resume, all with safety protocols

A state senator who lives on Whidbey is a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would allow restaurants to have indoor dining, gyms to fully reopen and social gatherings to resume, all with safety protocols.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, a Republican from North Whidbey, is one of the 16 sponsors of Senate Bill 5114, which would immediately place the entire state in Phase 2 of the governor’s Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan.

Muzzall is asking residents for input. An online hearing of the Health and Long Term Care committee is scheduled at 8 a.m. Wednesday. People can register to testify remotely or they can just indicate whether they support the proposal.

People can read more about testifying at committees and sign up at the Senate’s “committee sign-in” webpage.

Muzzall also has a link to the sign-up page on a press release posted on his website.

The bill comes as the rates of new COVID-19 cases are still high throughout the state, and national experts are warning that a new variant of the infection could significantly increase the spread across the nation.

On Jan. 5, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the Roadmap to Recovery plan, which uses a regional approach to reopening businesses and restarting activities based on four metrics.

All regions are still in Phase 1, which doesn’t allow indoor dining at restaurants.

Federal judges have repeatedly upheld Inslee’s emergency powers as related to the pandemic.

Under Phase 2, restaurants, gyms, churches and retail stores would be limited to 25 percent capacity indoors. Indoor social gatherings at homes would be limited to five people from outside a household, with two households maximum.

At a recent Island County commissioner meeting, the commissioners voiced concerns about the plan, particularly how regions could continually move back and forth in phases based on very changeable metrics.

They said such constant change and uncertainty is untenable for businesses.

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