Submitted by the Whatcom County Health Department

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced new changes to the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan. On March 22, all counties in Washington will move into Phase 3. This means there will be fewer restrictions on private and business activities across the state.

While this is encouraging news and a sign that our state is moving in the right direction, you should still take caution. The virus is still among us, new variants are circulating, and vaccine supply is still limited. To stay in Phase 3, we’ll have to keep our COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations low.

What’s allowed during Phase 3?

Phase 3 will allow the following:

  • 400 people or 50% occupancy (whichever is fewer) in all indoor spaces. That includes restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, weddings, and funerals. Mask use and physical distancing requirements remain the same.
  • 400 people or 50% occupancy (whichever is fewer) at all outdoor events. That includes outdoor weddings, funerals, concerts and more. Mask use and physical distancing requirements remain the same.
  • Larger outdoor and indoor venues (like sports stadiums) are capped at 25% occupancy or 9,000 occupants, whichever is fewer, and must follow spectator guidelines
  • Alcohol may now be served until midnight, up from 11 p.m. during Phase 2. 

Information about private gatherings and specific industries will be made available next week, and we will share it as soon as we have it. To learn more about this Phase 3 announcement, read this article from the Governor’s Office.

What metrics must we meet to stay in Phase 3?

There are only two metrics to pass to stay in Phase 3, but we’ll have to meet both of them if we don’t want to go back to Phase 2. Those metrics are:

  • Case Rates: Our county must maintain a case rate lower than 200 per 100,000 to stay in Phase 3. 
  • Hospitalizations: Whatcom County must maintain a 7-day average of five or fewer new COVID-19 hospitalizations to stay in Phase 3. 

Metrics are no longer measured based on healthcare region, but on a county-by-county basis. These metrics will be evaluated for each county every three weeks. If Whatcom fails either metric, we will move back to Phase 2. Evaluations will occur on Mondays with any possible changes taking effect Friday. The first evaluation of the metrics is scheduled for April 12.

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