PORT TOWNSEND — Some businesses will be opening this week in Jefferson County, although people will not be able to enjoy indoor dining or camping just yet.
Jefferson County got a fast approval from the state Department of Health on Saturday for moving into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-part economic reopening plan following COVID-19 restrictions.
Phase 2 will allow some businesses — hair and nail salons, some manufacturing, some in-home services such as housecleaning or nanny services, pet grooming, photography and new construction — to reopen.
Small parties and some sports facilities such as tennis courts also will be allowed to opened, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County Health Officer.
Clallam County could join Jefferson County in a matter of days as the county commissioners have a special meeting scheduled Wednesday to consider a recommendation from the county Board of Health.
The Clallam County Board of Health has a special meeting set at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to discuss the Phase 2 variance, as presented by Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank, and county commissioners will consider a possible recommendation at 1:30 p.m.
When Clallam County moves to Phase 2, that will open up camping in Jefferson County, Locke said.
And if both Clallam and Kitsap counties get approval from the state to move into Phase 2, that could allow indoor dining in Port Townsend, Locke said.
Limited indoor dining is allowed in most places that have moved to Phase 2, but Jefferson County explicitly excluded indoor dining for the moment because of fears that it would cause a crush of tourists going to Jefferson County to enjoy the local dining, Locke said.
“Port Townsend is a unique place,” he said. “We’re a restaurant-destination town.”
Locke said there’s work in progress, called the Open Streets Initiative, to allow some outdoor dining options, with some streets opening in Port Townsend for pedestrian traffic.
Locke also said that, while people are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible, shelter-in-place restrictions have been lifted for everyone except for the highest-risk residents.
Jefferson County remains at 30 positive COVID-19 cases with only two reported in the past several weeks. Both of those were old cases dating back to March, and one — a person located in Arizona — lists Jefferson County as their home address.
For a list of Phase 2 activities allowed, visit www.tinyurl.com/safestartwashington. The only change in Jefferson County is the lack of indoor dining.
Jefferson County’s weekly COVID-19 update will be at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday due to the Memorial Day holiday. The meeting of the Board of Jefferson County Commissioners can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/jeffcomeeting.
If Jefferson County’s experience is any indication, it’s possible Clallam County could move to Phase 2 by the end of this week.
Undersheriff Ron Cameron said county commissioners will consider a Board of Health recommendation Wednesday and may vote whether to forward it to the state.
The state took less than 24 hours to decide on Jefferson County’s application, approving the Phase 2 variance on Saturday.
While Clallam County has had more recent cases than Jefferson County — six new cases in the past couple of weeks — Cameron said the county only has 25 total cases out of a population of 76,000 with zero deaths.
“We’re doing OK,” he said.
There will be no Clallam County COVID-19 update today because of the Memorial Day holiday. The next update will be Friday.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached at [email protected].