Gov. Jay Inslee today announced new criteria for additional counties to apply for variances to move to Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start recovery plan.
Under the plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide. Counties are now eligible to apply if they have less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span.

Under the new criteria, 10 additional counties will be eligible to apply for a variance. They are:

San Juan
The new criteria are similar to the guidance released by the CDC for reopening regions nationwide. Increasing the counties eligible for variance will allow for increased economic activity around the state while also prioritizing the health and safety of workers and customers to limit the spread of COVID-19.
As of Monday, 10 counties have already been approved to move into Phase 2. Twenty-two counties in the state are eligible in total. Combined, these counties represent 30% of the state.
“All of this means we are making progress. It does not mean we have stopped this highly contagious virus. Cautious, well-informed relaxation of COVID-19 interventions will be critical. We want to get this right so we do not have to go through it again.” Inslee said.
“We recognize that this is a high bar, but it is necessary for our ability to have a safe start to reopening the economy and protecting the public’s health,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said.
To apply, local public health officials must submit a signed recommendation to be approved by the local board of health. Hospitals must have proper surge capacity and PPE and counties must have ample testing sites, isolation and quarantine facilities, and a contact tracing plan.
Instructions for counties from the Washington State Department of Health
Application for county variances
Information on rate of newly detected COVID-19 cases (by county)

The state will continue to look at the data and make adjustments accordingly. Decisions on how and when to allow a county granted Phase 2 variance to move to Phase 3 have not been made. This will be determined in the next two to three weeks in accordance to future data.