State moves to Phase 3, increases vaccine eligibility   

Restaurants, gyms increase capacity to 50 percent; counties must meet criteria to remain in phase 



The state is moving to a county-by-county evaluation of phase progress instead of the previous regional approach. Social distancing and face coverings are still required.

ABBY DAVIS, Evergreen copy chief

Washington state is moving to Phase 3 of the “Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery” plan on March 22. 

Restaurants, gyms, fitness centers and movie theaters may all increase their capacity to 50 percent, according to an article published by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

People can attend in-person, outdoor events like rodeos and motorsports at 25 percent capacity, according to the article. High school and professional sports are included.

Up to 400 people can attend outdoor activities and events indoors, as long as it does not exceed the 50 percent capacity for the location. Social distancing and face coverings are still required, according to the article. 

The state is moving to a county-by-county evaluation of phase progress instead of the previous regional approach. Counties will be evaluated every three weeks with the first evaluation taking place April 12, according to the article.

The Department of Health will move counties down one phase in the Healthy Washington plan if they fail to meet one or more metrics tracking COVID-19 cases, according to the article. The state holds large and small counties to different sets of criteria.

Large counties must have 200 or fewer new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day average. These counties must also have a seven-day average of five or fewer new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents to remain in Phase 3, according to the article.

Smaller counties with populations of 50,000 or fewer must maintain a 14-day average below 30 new cases and a new seven-day hospitalization average at three or fewer, according to the article.

The shift to county evaluation is because of the decrease in case rates and hospitalizations, as well as the increasing number of people getting vaccinated, according to the article. 

All counties will move down one phase if ICU capacity statewide exceeds 90 percent, according to the article.  

Everyone in Phase 1B, Tier 2 of the state vaccination rollout plan is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting March 17, according to the article. This includes firefighters and those working in agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, public transit and law enforcement. People over the age of 16 who are pregnant or have a disability may also receive a vaccine, according to the article.