Washington State Updates to Phase In Approach

Easing Religious Restrictions, More Counties Authorized to Apply for Phase 2, and Not All Counties Will Be in Phase 2 on June 1, 2020

A Message from Doug Levy, WRPA Lobbyist

Information regarding the Wednesday, May 27, 2020 Press Conference

  • Eased religious-gathering restrictions
  • Noted that two more counties were given authority to apply for Phase 2 – now up to 24 of 39
  • Noted that not all counties will get the okay on June 1, 2020 to proceed to Phase 2 – more details in days to come.

Religious Gathering Restrictions Eased

  • New additional guidance for both Phase I and Phase 2
    • In-person services for Phase 1 – Outdoor services on religious properties or adjacent to. Up to 100 – with appropriate face coverings and safety precautions;
    • In-Person services for Phase 2 – Outdoor services above + indoor services at 25% capacity or 50 individuals – whichever is less.  Also requires face coverings
  • Those in Phase 2 can also do in-home counseling of 5 individuals or less
  • In each case, can do these services multiple times per day
  • The above includes all worship services, study services, weddings, and funerals.  No limits on #/day
  • One restriction on religious services = No choirs.
  • Encouraging (but not requiring – religious institutions to maintain a voluntary log of participants so that we can act quickly if someone does get infected or exposed
  • Says with the easing of these restrictions, religious institutions asked to use common sense and follow the science – 6-feet distance, sanitize frequently, educate employees, PPE
  • Had leaders of Muslim, Jewish, and Lutheran faith speak

Other Items to Note

  • 2 more counties allowed to apply to go to Phase 2 – Walla Walla and one other – now makes 24 of 39
  • Regarding what is allowed on June 1 – more details in days to come but not every county will be able to move to Phase 2 on that particular date
  • Asked about whether he still has confidence in the Employment Security Department Director and what about the people experiencing delays and still not getting checks?  Said people should be upset about a criminal conspiracy, been able to recover millions of $$ with law enforcement help.  Said he won’t sugar-coat the frustration with delays – these claims need to be adjudicated.  But pointed out that this is a historic event, something we have not had in a century, with claims going up by a factor of 10.
  • Asked about whether counties like King, Pierce, and Snohomish might be able to at some point decide for themselves to go forward – also asked if it is possible some counties might get to Phase 3 before others even get to Phase 2?  Said while counties can be more restrictive if they choose, on moving forward have to have some minimum standard.  Have knocked down fatalities a lot and a little reduction in ##s of infections – but can spring back if not careful
  • Asked about how he can dictate religious services when it’s a 1st Amendment right? Said there’s a clear constitutional authority to act and issue orders, guidance in times of emergency.
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