This map shows the current phases of Washington’s counties. (Washington State Department of Health)

This map shows the current phases of Washington’s counties. (Washington State Department of Health)

Getting to the next phase of reopening is in state’s hands

State health officials are reviewing county requests as Inslee says it’s ‘not a rubber stamp process.’

OLYMPIA — Snohomish County continued its wait Wednesday for the state to decide if it can move to the second phase of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county submitted an application Monday evening to advance to Phase 2 of the four-stage plan laid out by Gov. Jay Inslee last month. Department of Health officials are reviewing it and could make a decision this week.

Twenty-seven counties are currently in the second phase. Snohomish County and five others, including Pierce, are trying to get there.

In the second phase, many non-essential businesses can restart or expand what they’ve been allowed to do. Restaurants can operate at 50% capacity and retailers can conduct in-store sales, with some restrictions. Barber shops, hair and nail salons and pet groomers can reopen, too.

Camping and other outdoor recreation activities, such as biking and climbing, can resume with limited group sizes. Nannies, house cleaners and real-estate firms can also return to work.

Inslee said Wednesday that he knows counties are anxious for a decision and state health officials are “working diligently” on each application.

“People should realize that this is not some sort of rubber stamp process,” Inslee said. “We have an obligation to keep people safe and we intend to fulfill that obligation.”

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