Benton, Franklin finally escape Phase 1 Covid restrictions

Benton, Franklin and three other counties are putting the most restrictive phase of the Covid-19 restrictions behind them. 

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Oct. 13 that the counties still left in a modified version of Phase 1 of the Safe Start program may advance to Phase 2.  

The governor cited “gratifying” increases in wearing masks to deter the spread of coronavirus, which causes Covid-19. But he cautioned that there is still work to do and the arrival of fall brings a new set of challenges. 

“We need to get to that 90%. We need to get over this unnecessary argument that a mask is a political statement. All it is is a piece of cloth,” he said.  

He noted that social activity is moving indoors. 

“As we go inside and sit on our couches with our friends, that is a risk,” he cautioned 

Phase 2 allows a greater variety of business activity.

Restaurants, for instance, can operate at 50% capacity and movie theaters can operate at 25% capacity. Funerals and other critical gatherings are permitted when precautions are in place. 

Some sports and outdoor recreation runs are permitted. Remaining manufacturing may reopen as is agritourism. 

High risk individuals are encouraged but not required to remain home. Nonessential travel is not allowed until Phase 3. 

For more information about the Safe Start program and the activities allowed under the four different phases, visit

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