EVERETT — Executive Dave Somers has no current plans to move Snohomish County back to Phase 1 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan, he said in a statement Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Somers told reporters that reverting to Phase 1 “is clearly one of the options that could be in front of us” as the county deals with a rise in virus infections.
He sought to clarify that the next day. “The only reason I would even consider it at some point in the future would be if we saw a significant, sustained outbreak that threatened to overwhelm our health care system or a significant, sustained spike in deaths,” Somers’ Wednesday statement said.
Snohomish County has been in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-step reopening process since June 5.
In the past week, the county has seen the biggest jump in COVID-19 cases since late April. So far, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus have remained flat. However, it could take weeks to see an increase in either after a rise in cases.
Moving back to Phase 1 would prohibit dining-in at restaurants and gatherings of five people or less, as well as closure of retail stores, barber shops and nail salons.
Since Tuesday, dozens of local business owners and residents have contacted Somers’ office to push against the possibility, county spokesman Kent Patton said.
Barry Boyle owns the Irishman Pub in Everett, where patrons can only enter if they’re wearing a mask.
On Wednesday, he said business has improved since the county advanced to Phase 2 after months of barely making ends meet.
“If we go back to Phase 1 and they force me to close down again, there is no guarantee I am going to be able to open up again,” Boyle said.
The recent rise in cases was enough to prevent county leaders from applying to advance to Phase 3 of the governor’s plan, which would allow gatherings of up to 50 people and reopen movie theaters, libraries and gyms, with restrictions.
“If people continue both to practice effective social distancing and to wear masks when in public, we will continue to progress to the next phase,” Somers said.
Herald writer Ian Davis-Leonard contributed to this article.