Restaurants can open now that Island County moved to Phase 2

Restaurants in Island County will finally be able to serve food indoors, albeit with restrictions.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the North Region, of which Island County is a part, is among those that are allowed to move to the second of the two phases prescribed in the COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery plan.

Only the South Central region — which includes Benton, Franklin, Columbia, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Yakima counties — will remain in the first and more restrictive phase.

Island County officials had been critical of the plan and the fact that the county was previously held back from advancing because it was lumped in with Skagit, San Juan and Whatcom counties.

Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said she is thankful that the county moved to the next phase.

“We’ve been there for awhile,” she said, “but it’s good to have the governor acknowledge that.”

The phases are determined by four metrics that look at changes in numbers of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, ICU occupancy and positive COVID tests.

The North Region had decreasing or low trends in all of the categories in the last two weeks, according to the state Department of Health. Inslee had changed the rule earlier this month, allowing regions to advance if they met just three of the metrics.

Members of Island County’s Council of Government held a special meeting last week to speak with a representative of the governor’s office about the regional phasing plan and write a letter of protest to Inslee. The council is made up of county commissioners, the mayors of each municipality in the county and a representative of each port district.

Officials pointed out problems they see with the phasing plan and argued it was neither fair nor rational for Island County to be in Phase 1. Island County had been in Phase 3 under a previous reopening plan, but then the entire state was moved back to the first phase as case numbers jumped in mid-November.

Officials at the governor’s office responded to the letter by saying they weren’t going to revisit the phasing plan.

The reopening plan currently doesn’t have phases beyond the second, but health officials said earlier that they might be added in the future.

For those counties in the second phase, restaurants can bring back indoor service at 25 percent capacity through 11 p.m. Indoor fitness centers and live entertainment venues can also open up at 25 percent capacity. Establishments that only serve alcohol and no food have to remain closed.

More in News

The new Mukilteo terminal's east elevators (left near stairs) are now open. They're located just a few steps from the transit center. (Washington State Ferries)
Study examines Everett-Whidbey passenger ferry service

So far, no government is seriously considering such a service, which would cost millions of dollars.

Photo by WhidbeyHealth
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, with WhidbeyHealth Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer and pharmacy director Dr. Tony Triplett discuss vaccine processes during Larsen’s visit last Friday.
Larsen talks vaccines at OH council

The federal government would be releasing 13.5 million doses this week, he said.

Previously convicted of vehicular assault, man charged with DUI

Prosecutors charged Brian Shelley, 50, in Island County Superior Court Feb. 17 with felony DUI.

Smokey Bear gone but not forgotten

A cutout sign has been missing for six months.

Assessor picked as permanent planning director

Mary Engle has been credited with fixing problems in the department with her straight-forward, no-nonsense style and administrative abilities.

COER: New opinion of EA-18G impacts needed

Bob Wilbur, chairperson of COER, said the group will wait for the results of the consultations before deciding whether to file a lawsuit.

Vaccination rate will need a booster to meet goal set by state

Island County had received fewer vaccines, per capita, than most other counties while the county has a higher-than-average number of elderly people.

Photo by John Fisken
Senior Caden Leckelt during Oak Harbor vs. Ferndale varsity foodball game on Feb. 20. The Wildcats lost 41-7.
School sports back, but fans told to go online

All three school districts have been exploring streaming options for sports.

The ‘Angel de la Creatividad’ sculpture is currently bright red, but it is unknown whether it will stay that color if it is installed in Oak Harbor. Rendering provided
‘Angel’ sculpture mulled, others move forward

City council members voted to direct staff to explore accepting the 37-foot-tall gift.

Most Read