The Eight Ball Cafe in Everett, seen here on May 8, remains open for takeout only. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

The Eight Ball Cafe in Everett, seen here on May 8, remains open for takeout only. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.

OLYMPIA — The state is dropping plans to require that customers provide their name and contact information when restaurants reopen for dining.

“I think where we’ll end up is giving customers an option of leaving a phone number or not,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at an afternoon news conference. He said he’ll have more to say on the subject “in the next day or so.”

A requirement to keep a log — and hold onto the information for a month — is among guidelines issued May 11 by the governor’s office as a requisite for restaurants to restart dining service in the second phase of the state’s reopening. That opportunity could come as early as June 1, though Inslee said the date is “not set in stone.”

The purpose is to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus. If a worker or customer tests positive, information in the log can be used to track down those who may have come into contact with the infected person. Inslee has emphasized the information would be kept private and restaurants could not use it for any private or commercial purpose.

“We want to be able to open restaurants. People are anxious for that and we want to do some common-sense things so that if someone does have an infection at a restaurant, we will be able to save other patrons’ lives,” he said earlier this week. “We ought to be able to do both.”

As of Thursday, the state’s tally of coronavirus cases reached 17,773 with 983 deaths. In Snohomish County, there have been 122 deaths and 3,049 confirmed and probable cases.

Inslee responded to the coronavirus pandemic with a statewide stay-home order March 23, which put the clamps on the economy and much of societal interactions.

This month, amid mostly favorable signs in the state’s fight against COVID-19, the governor is restarting the economy and reviving public life under his four-stage Safe Start plan.

Many outdoor recreation areas are accessible again. Stalled construction projects are going again. Car dealers and car washes are open, and retailers, wineries and bars can now provide curbside service.

In the next phase, restaurants, retail stores, beauty salons, barber shops and offices of a host of professional services will be able to reopen, if compliant with guidance issued by Inslee. As part of the reopening plan, eight rural counties are already in the second phase, which will give government and industry leaders insight on how well the rules work in real time.

There is no set timeline for future phases. The state needs to be able to conduct more tests each day than it now does, Inslee said. That could change if the federal government delivers the hundreds of thousands of test kit materials it has promised, he said.

As places open, Inslee said he’d advise people to still consider the necessity of going to certain public spaces, such as those where all the interactions are inside. That is where the threat of exposure would be greater.

“This is a big question,” he said. “I don’t want my family going out unless it is kind of necessary.”

We won’t know what lives are saved if you avoid going to “an unnecessary social event,” but lives will be saved, he said.

However, he added a few minutes later, when restaurants reopen, he won’t be reluctant to go.

Restaurants will be able to operate at half-capacity in the next phase. Buffets and salad bars will not be allowed. No bar seating either. Tables will need to be set far enough apart to assure physical distancing. Only single-use menus are allowed.

Diners will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask or face covering when they talk with employees or get up to use the restroom.

Each industry will get its own guidance.

When in-store shopping starts, retailers will be able to serve 30% of their maximum occupancy. Fitting rooms must be cleaned after each customer’s use. Any unpurchased items left in the room should be removed from the sales floor and stored for at least 24 hours before being returned to the inventory.

Retailers must assure physical distancing is maintained among customers by eliminating choke points and marking high traffic areas with 6-foot markers. And to protect workers, sneeze guards or other barriers should be in place at all fixed places of potentially close interaction.

To read details on guidance for other industries, go to coronavirus.wa.gov.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Funko warehouse in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Funko to close Everett warehouses, shift work to Arizona

The company headquarters are currently in downtown Everett, but distribution will move to a Phoenix suburb.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday, Oct. 14,2021 by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines to add Boeing 737s to the Paine Field fleet

It’s a sign of the growing popularity of flying from Everett. So far, much smaller Embraer E175s have been the rule.

FILE - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson talks to reporters, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, during a news conference in Seattle. In a 5-4 decision Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the Washington Supreme Court upheld an $18 million campaign finance penalty against the Consumer Brands Association, formerly known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson sued the group in 2013, alleging that it spent $11 million to oppose a ballot initiative without registering as a political committee or disclosing the source of the money. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington justices uphold $18M fine in GMO-labeling case

Big grocers funneled dark money into a campaign against genetically modified labels on food packaging.

Mara Wiltshire, left, celebrates her first place finish in Mario Cart against her son Miles Jenkins, 7, as Calvin Jenkins, 5, looking on Friday evening at their home in Everett, Washington on January 7, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Child care’s heightened burden takes parents out of workforce

One Snohomish County mom said she couldn’t return to work “because I didn’t have child care and I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

In this photo taken May 17, 2017, wine barrels are shown at a vineyard adjacent to the Walla Walla Vintners winery in Walla Walla, Wash. The remote southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla - which used to be best known for sweet onions and as home of the state penitentiary - has now reinvented itself into a center of premium wines and wine tourism. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)
More sustainable Washington wines are on the way

Labels will indicate grape growers met guidelines in 9 areas, including water, pest and labor practices.

A sign bearing the corporate logo hangs in the window of a Starbucks open only to take-away customers in this photograph taken Monday, April 26, 2021, in southeast Denver.  Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month. The Seattle coffee giant says, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022,  it's responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Starbucks nixes vaccine mandate after Supreme Court ruling

The move reverses a policy the coffee company announced earlier this month.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Regulators OK doubling of composting operation in Stanwood

Lenz Enterprises can now handle 150,000 tons a year. Residents worry odors will be a problem.

Christian Sayre
Everett bar owner arrested again on new sexual assault charges

Christian Sayre, longtime owner of The Anchor Pub, was charged Friday with 10 counts of felony sex offenses.

FILE - Bill Gates speaks during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London, Tuesday, Oct, 19, 2021. A small city in the top U.S. coal-mining state of Wyoming will be home to a Bill Gates-backed experimental nuclear power project near a coal-fired power plant that will soon close, officials announced Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Microsoft to review workplace harassment, including Bill Gates allegations

One engineer wrote in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over several years.

Snohomish roofing company fined another $425K for safety violations

Allways Roofing has had at least seven serious injuries on its job sites, according to the state.

ZeroAvia will collaborate with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, to produce a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional De Havilland Q400 aircraft in excess of 500 nautical miles. (Alaska Airlines)
Hydrogen-powered aircraft company ZeroAvia coming to Everett

It adds to Snohomish County’s growing repertoire of firms focused on flight without petroleum.

Jack Ng, owner of China City, at his restaurant in Mill Creek on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Businesses and nonprofits plan to push through COVID in 2022

“You can’t just wait until the fog clears,” says one business owner. Here’s what he and others are planning.