Washington will allow movie theaters to reopen in parts of the state and some youth sports to resume based on county metrics.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday the state will loosen some coronavirus restrictions around restaurants, businesses and youth sports.
New rules will allow movie theaters to reopen in about 85% of the state, according to Inslee.
The restriction that prohibited people from dining at restaurants indoors with people outside their household has been removed, which Inslee said he hopes boosts business. Alcohol service is extended from 10 p.m. until 11 p.m., and table sizes are increased for counties in Phases 2 and 3.
Some youth sports, such as soccer and cross country, will also be allowed to resume based on certain health metrics. However, Inslee said high school football would not be allowed to resume in most counties, because it’s deemed a high-risk sport due to close facial interactions.
Under the new rules, realtors can also hold open houses again, as long as they abide by county gathering size mandates.
Wedding receptions can also resume.
Inslee also urged residents to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, especially heading into colder weather when people will be spending more time indoors.
Inslee said the state has seen “good compliance” with the state order to wear masks, but increased compliance “will help us knock down the infection even more.”
During the press conference, Dr. Joshua Schiffer, an infectious disease physician and researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, pointed to his clinic’s research that shows mask use not only helps prevent the spread of the virus but can also lessen the strength of the virus.
As of Tuesday, there are 90,276 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). There were 414 new cases reported Sunday, which is the most recent date that data was available.
New daily cases have been trending upward since mid-September, increasing from a seven-day rolling average of 349 new cases on Sept. 12 to 430 new cases on Sept. 21, according to DOH.
However, Inslee said officials believe this uptick was caused by one-time evets, such as Labor Day parties and wildfire smoke that forced people indoors.
“We hope they are so we can get back on the track of knocking these numbers down again,” Inslee said.