Inslee announces phased COVID-19 regional recovery plan starting Jan. 11

Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday announced that beginning Jan. 11, the state will follow phased eight-region “Roadmap to Recovery” plan to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No one was untouched by the effects of the pandemic in 2020; many have and continue to suffer through no fault of their own,” Inslee said during a press conference. “We aren’t out of this yet, but we are close to turning the corner on COVID-19 and this third wave of infection.”

Washington has avoided overwhelming the state’s health care systems throughout this pandemic so far through rigorous safety measures, such as physical distancing and masking, as well as social and economic restrictions, the governor’s office said. This new recovery system aims to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity, ensuring care for Washingtonians that need it and paving the way for economic recovery.


The regions are mostly based on emergency medical services (EMS) regions used for evaluating health care services. There will be eight regions of four or more counties, divided according to available health care services based on metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.

The eight regions are:

“Our intent is to ensure that regions, the communities within them, and our state as whole have a balanced path toward recovery from the pandemic that relies on multiple key metrics that look at disease trajectory and health system capacity,” said Deputy Secretary for COVID Response Lacy Fehrenbach. “This plan offers the start of clear way forward as we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, while we get more people vaccinated over the next few months.”

A region’s phase will be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) in response to four metric requirements. The final metrics for regions will be calculated on Friday, Jan. 8 and will be effective Jan.11.

To go forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2, regions must meet all four metrics:

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

Regions that fail to meet two or more of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.

The metrics for each region will be updated on the Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. Dependent on a region’s metrics, the Department of Health will move the region into a new phase — forward or backward — the following Monday.

DOH and local health departments reserve the right to move a region outside of this timing, and additional phases may be added as the state’s COVID-19 situation changes with continued vaccine distribution and other changes in public health response.

“Our goal is to reopen our economy safely, and to do it as quickly as possible. Every week, we plan on tracking our ongoing progress in protecting our communities against COVID-19,” said Secretary of Health Umair Shah. “The governor’s new plan will allow all of us to understand what measures are being used for the path forward including when it makes sense to ease restrictions across the state.

Phase 1

All regions will begin in Phase 1, because of current metrics.

Phase 1, for the most part, aligns with restrictions current in place for most counties today, with a few key exceptions. Indoor fitness and outdoor entertainment, for example, were both previously prohibited, but will now be permitted with restrictions.

Currently, all indoor fitness is entirely prohibited. The Department of Health said it now believes that the state can safely allow appointment-based fitness and training where there is no more than one customer per room or 500 square feet for large facilities. This will allow gyms to schedule people wanting to come in to work out in a safe way to ensure activity during winter months. Masks and physical distancing are required.

Outdoor entertainment establishes will be permitted to reopen in Phase 1, including zoos, outdoor theaters and concert venues, and rodeos, among other outdoor venues. Operation must be by ticketed event only with groups of 10 maximum with a limit of two households. Timed ticketing is required, as well as facial coverings and physical distancing.

Indoor gatherings and indoor dining remain prohibited. Outdoor dining with a maximum of six and limit for two households per table is permitted with an 11 p.m. close.

Retail, worship services, personal services, and professional services — where remote work isn’t available—are limited to 25% capacity.

Phase 2

Once a region meets all four required health metrics for three of the four past weeks, they will be permitted to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. This phase sees some relaxation in regulations, but masks and physical distancing are still required statewide for all activities.

Indoor social gatherings with people outside of the household begins being permitted in Phase 2 with a max of 5 people from outside the household and limit of two households. Outdoor social gatherings maximum in this phase is increased to 15 individuals from two households.

In Phase 2, indoor dining will be permitted with a maximum 25% capacity and an 11:00 PM close. All other indoor activities must also follow a 25% capacity limit. This includes retail, entertainment and groceries, as well as personal and professional services.

Indoor fitness must also follow the 25% capacity limit.

In Phase 2 moderate risk indoor sports and all sports outdoors gain flexibility to have league games and competitions, which will help ensure opportunities for kids to be active, which is especially important during winter months and as kids navigate virtual or hybrid schooling.

Outdoor entertaining may host groups of up to 15 with the two-household limit and an overall 75 person maximum. Wedding and funeral ceremonies and indoor receptions may take place following the appropriate venue requirements. Food and drink service limited to restaurant guidance.

“It’s a new year, and COVID-19 is no longer new to us,” Inslee said. “We’ve learned a lot; we’ve struggled a lot; we’ve accomplished a lot. Washingtonians are undeterred. This battle continues, but the turning point is on its way.”

  1. Thanks! That’s disappointing myself and small business owners need and deserve additional phase 3 & 4 guidance. 25% capacity indoor dinning limitation imposed and/or planned is discouraging especially witnessing massive shoppers at local Costco last weekend.

  2. Are any metrics trending towards “recovery”? This is a shutdown plan, not a recovery plan. Note that influenza has been more than decimated. Note that 2018 WA State influenza death rate was exactly the same as WA State CV-19 death rate in 2020.

  3. This is tyranny, pure and simple and it will go on as long as enough people follow blindly along with these draconian diktats. This is killing small businesses, putting hundreds of thousands out of work, locking people away from each other which goes to more suicide, mental illness, abuse, drug overdose & etc. Governor Inslee does not care about any of this. He and his minions are looking to cause enough financial damage as to usher in an “income tax” as well as an increased death tax and others. As Matt said, this is a lockdown plan and it is not going to go away because the metrics are not “doable”. Time for County executives and Mayors to tell Inslee it isn’t going to happen in their jurisdictions. This is banana republic style “Ruling” not leadership.

  4. I don’t know about tyranny from the local level, but I do know this whole thing was handled with a lot of stupidity from the federal level. Giving $2000 checks to millions of people who didn’t need or ask for the money was stupid and will be stupid when done again by the Democrats who will soon be in charge.

    Why wasn’t all the stimulus money earmarked to the small business’ that were actually devastated by the necessary actions taken to try to protect our health care workers, first responders, and health compromised and elderly citizens? I ended up giving my 2K to someone that I know who needed it. Same will happen when/if I receive next “stimulus” check(s).

    I would call the government giving money to anyone who doesn’t need it an act of tyranny, whether it’s in the form of tax breaks for billionaires (like Trump and his pals did) or 2K checks to all individuals who make as much as $75,000 year (like Biden and his pals will do as soon as they can). Why not give all the “stimulus” checks to people who make between 0 and 30K per year. It’s for double damn sure these people will spend it right away; rather than save or invest it.

  5. This governor needs to quit making new fuzzy plans and must begin to follow the plans all ready in existence that he is purposely ignoring.

    Specifically, he must permit all those 75 or older immediate access to vaccination, as per the plan.

    Currently, he will be solely responsible for the senseless death of thousands of citizens of 75 years of age and older; all while the solution sits idly on a shelf at perhaps Walgreens and other locations.

    Wake up Mr. Governor, befpre it is too late to do so.

    1. Not sure what you’re talking about, we’re following the cdc guiidelines to a T, except we’re vaccinating all Long Term Care residents in the first group, since they are totally unable to self-isolate and are at such high risk. When there is a new deadly disease, you have to adjust your plans as new scientific data emerges.
      Phase 1a “Jumpstart Phase”
      • High-risk health workers
      • First responders
      Phase 1b
      • People of all ages with
      comorbid and underlying
      conditions that put them
      at significantly higher risk
      • Older adults living in
      congregate or
      overcrowded settings

  6. The flu deaths in 2018 when there were no masks, social distancing, restriction of indoor gatherings, plexiglass barriers, or extra cleaning cannot be compared to deaths from Covid-19 which have occurred despite all these measures. If we had not had these restrictions Covid deaths would be much higher. 350,000 national Covid deaths in 10 months is 6 times higher than average flu deaths in most years. Additional evidence that these measures prevent disease is the fact that there has been almost no influenza or other respiratory infections this season, for which we can be thankful. We should consider taking precautions like masking, distancing, and extra cleaning every year from November through March. That could eliminate most influenza deaths and millions of lost work days.

    1. “350,000 national Covid deaths in 10 months is 6 times higher than average flu deaths in most years” <- Wow, right?

      Marthlyn, would you be shocked to know that the total US death-rate (all deaths all causes) hasn't been noticeably affected at all by CV-19? If what you are saying is true, then there would obviously be some sort of significant, observable effect. <- Hmm….

      1. Some main stream media on the John Hopkins study relating to deaths, written by a non-scientist:
        Washington State:
        2015: 40723
        2016: 40541
        2017: 42126
        2018: 41989
        2019: 42833
        2020: 41726

        My favorite Science when talking about science is Egyptology – which is the unholy union of Archeology and State. Some crazy Geologists point out that the Sphynx is thousands of years older than than the pyramids. So they are no longer allowed to study the artifacts.

    2. Marthlyn, the reason that those deaths have all but disappeared is because they are being counted as Covid instead of in those columns, not because they are no longer happening.

      The total death numbers for 2020 for US, Washington State, and Snohomish County compared to the last 10 years does not show an increase of the number stated as Covid deaths.

      What everyone should question is why is Covid being counted in a way that nothing else has been counted in the past? And knowing this what is the point of comparing anything in the past or future to Covid without using same measures?

      What would using the Covid counting model show about Flu deaths, SARS, H1N1, etc?

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