Washington to reopen under phased plan

Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Washington, (Asian independent) Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a Safe Start plan that allows the US state’s economy to reopen in a phased approach amid the COVID-19 pandemic starting Tuesday.

The four-phase plan, Inslee said on Monday, sets a data-driven approach to emerge from the epidemic, which modifies business closures and physical distancing measures while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

Phase one of reopening begins on Tuesday, which allows for essential businesses and some outdoor recreation, such as hunting, fishing, golf and hiking, to resume.

According to the plan, readiness must be achieved in four areas to proceed from each phase, which include healthcare system readiness, testing capacity and availability, case and contact investigations, and ability to protect high-risk populations.

The state will remain in each phase for a minimum of three weeks.

Small counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not identified COVID-19 cases for the past three weeks can apply to move to phase two of the plan, which allows for social gatherings and more businesses to resume.

“We have not yet won the fight against this virus. We continue to see infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths across the state from COVID-19,” Inslee said.

“If infection rates and hospitalizations for COVID-related issues go up, I would not hesitate to scale these efforts back down to protect public health and save lives,” he added.

The state accounts for 15,003 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 830 deaths.