Businesses, local leaders push for update on phase reopening

Local Leaders, Business Owners Urge For Update On Phase Three, Four

KENNEWICK, Wash. – It’s been over two months since Governor Jay Inslee introduced phase one and two of reopening during the pandemic.

Now that the entire state is in phase two, many people have asked, what’s next?

We still don’t know.

“We take each day in stride and we all look at each other and go, ‘are you doing this are you doing that does this make sense for you?'” Alanna Lindblom, Owner of Red Mountain Kitchen said.

The owner said phase two has brought on many changes, mostly good ones.

“A lot of our vendors have been able to run all the way through COVID in a different capacity a lot of them have been doing take out,” she said.

At Red Mountain Kitchen, chefs and bakers can rent space to cook or bake goods for customers.

They can also dine inside, but only at a 25 percent capacity, in phase two. That means 20 people dining inside at one time.

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Lindblom said she’s grateful people can dine indoors, but phase changes have come very last minute, which can pose a challenge.

“When they make the decisions last minute and then you end up with supply chain issues,” she said.

Stephanie Swanberg with the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce said it comes down to predictability. Many businesses owners are uneasy not knowing what the future of reopening looks like in Washington.

“How do businesses predict their ability to generate cash, and the sources of where they use that cash? How do they determine whether they’ll have the ability to pay their debts? Are people gonna be able to keep their jobs? Are employers going to be able to offer those jobs in two weeks one month six months?” she asked.

“It’d be nice to know ahead of time long enough to be able to have all the other pieces adapt,” Lindblom added.

Kennewick Mayor Don Britain said they’ve tried to be a part of the phase reopening conversation with Governor Inslee, but to no avail.

“We need to know, the end result, what do we need to strive for? We know what metrics we needed to get to phase two now we have this blank screen,” Britain said.

Washington Senate Republicans proposed a phase three and four reopening plan to the governor, but it was met with ridicule.

KAPP KVEW reached out to the Governor’s office to see if they’re working on future reopening phases.

“Our entire COVID response is based on getting back to normal. It’s a process that is based in the science of the novel coronavirus, and it has saved thousands of lives from being lost. 

There is also the economic and social impact of the pandemic. The governor and his staff are in regular contact with local government, industries, and labor across the state to balance the state’s reopening needs with an appropriate level of COVID mitigation. 
Future phases are being discussed and will be announced when they’ve been thoroughly vetted and agreed upon. Part of that process, as we’ve said repeatedly, is studying weeks of COVID activity data under Phase 2 before being secure about what can safely be attempted in Phase 3 and beyond. We don’t have enough data yet on how Phase 2 changes have impacted trends in COVID activity.
We’re interested in giving people real hope, not hope driven by political urgency or that changes with the prevailing winds, like what Senate Republicans unveiled this week. There is a misperception in some circles that the governor is what’s keeping the state from a sense of “normalcy.” In reality, it is and has always been the pandemic that put us in this situation. The virus and its variants are still dictating the terms of this emergency response effort.”
Alanna said they’re cautiously optimistic for the future. She and other hope if there is a plan to reopen, they know about it sooner rather than later.

“We’re trying to be very careful about how we go forward to make sure everybody’s safe and covered and that we’re doing it the right way,” she said.