Greetings, Seattle Metro Chamber members,
On May 13, Governor Jay Inslee outlined the path forward to reopening our economy and announced that effective May 18, all counties will move into Phase 3 of Washington’s Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. He also announced that most business restrictions will end June 30, or sooner if first-dose vaccinations of those 16 and older statewide hits 70%.
This is incredibly encouraging news and a testament to the progress we’ve made on vaccination so far. According to the Washington State Department of Health, the statewide population with a first dose of the vaccine ages 16 and older as of May 10 is 57%.
Here in King County, the numbers are very strong:
- Already, 70% of people 16 and older in King County have received at least one dose of their vaccine, and more than 52% of people 16 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the county.
- Seattle is one of the most-vaccinated cities in the country – neck-and-neck for first doses with San Francisco at 74% and 75%, respectively, according to the city of Seattle.
- The Chamber and our partners have broken down barriers and brought more than 8,000 vaccine doses throughout our region.
There is still work ahead on equitably offering convenient opportunities for vaccination, but our progress to date is something to be proud of. Throughout this pandemic, we have supported following the science—and the science shows the vaccines for the coronavirus are remarkably effective and are indeed our best path toward safely resuming many of the activities that we miss.
Along those lines, Governor Inslee also announced today that Washington will immediately adopt updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control regarding masks for those who are fully vaccinated, meaning people who are two weeks removed from their second Moderna or Pfizer shot, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Fully vaccinated people will still need to follow guidance at their workplace and local businesses, and the Governor has noted that businesses retain the right to require customers wear masks. The guidance does not apply to health care settings like hospitals, long-term care, or doctor’s offices; correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or schools. And the federal order requiring masks on public transportation remains in place.
As we start to turn the dial toward a full and safe reopening of our economy, we know that there are many considerations for our broad membership, whether you have been operating on-site the whole time, went fully remote, or are somewhere in between. Our association health plan, Business Health Trust, has return to office resources that may be helpful if you are starting to develop a more concrete timeline for bringing people back to the office.
Today’s announcements make it even more important for local, regional, and state leaders to coordinate and partner with employers so that over the next six weeks, people have a better idea of how a fully reopened region will look and feel – whether they are an employer, employee, or customer. As your business advocate, we are committed to working tirelessly on your behalf, and will share major themes that we hear from our membership in our conversations with local, regional, and state officials. We encourage you to let us know what questions or concerns come up in your planning.
President and CEO
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce