Benton, Franklin counties approved for Phase 1.5 reopening

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Benton and Franklin Counties were approved Thursday to move to a modified Phase 1 of the state’s Safe Start Phased Reopening Plan.

Washington State Secretary of Health John Weisman’s approval of the counties’ applications allows limited and modified openings for some businesses and personal activities in Benton and Franklin Counties starting at midnight.

Activities allowed include:

  • Construction as permitted in Phase 2 guidance (new construction projects can occur)
  • Manufacturing as permitted in Phase 2 guidance (non-essential manufacturing)
  • Restaurants for outdoor seating only at 50% of existing outdoor capacity
  • In-store retail at 15% indoor capacity with indoor activities limited to 30 minutes
  • Personal services (barbers, hair salons, tattoo shops) at 25% indoor capacity
  • Dog groomers at 25% indoor capacity
  • No gatherings with people outside of the household except for small behavioral health support groups of fewer than 5 people

Businesses that are allowed to reopen are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified above.

Before opening, businesses must do the following:

  1. All businesses must sign a business pledge that they will following all COVID-19 guidance. Spanish business pledge
  2. Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and submit it by email or in person to Benton or Franklin County. Spanish COVID-19 Safety Plan
  3. Post the COVID-19 Safety Plan at the front of the business
  4. Require face coverings for employees and customers
  5. Post signs stating that face coverings are required.

Washington Department of Health will continue to closely monitor the status of COVID19 in Benton and Franklin Counties especially hospitalizations. If hospitalizations for COVID-19 significantly increase throughout the course of implementing this plan, the state will consider a strict lock down of the counties, including closure of nearly all businesses.

The Benton-Franklin Health District Board of Health wants to remind the public to continue to follow all the precautions in Phase 1, including wearing face coverings in public, staying at least six feet away from other people, practicing excellent hand hygiene and staying home when they’re sick.