Washington reopens but with a plea for caution
Most pandemic restrictions were lifted in Washington on June 30 as Gov. Jay Inslee celebrated the state’s work to combat the virus that causes Covid-19.
“Because folks listened to science and stayed home to stay healthy, wore masks and got vaccinated, we can now safely fully re-open our state’s economy and cultural centers after 15 long months,” he said.
But the return to normalcy for business comes with a warning. Unvaccinated residents remain at risk from three aggressive coronavirus variants.
Nearly 69% of Washington residents age 16 and over are vaccinated, just shy of the state’s 70% goal. The vaccination rates for Benton and Franklin counties are much lower.
The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations offered in Washington are effective against all three variants, said Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state epidemiologist, who spoke at a press conference June 30 to discuss the end of most, though not all, pandemic restrictions.
“Please get the vaccine,” Lindquist said. “It’s time to be done with it.”
As of June 30, all business sectors may return to normal capacity, with exceptions for large indoor events, defined as any event with more than 10,000 people.
- Businesses are asked but not required to verify vaccination status and Covid-19 test results.
- Restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, theaters and other businesses are no longer under capacity limits.
- Physical distancing is no longer required.
- Facial coverings including masks are not required for vaccinated people, but individual businesses may require them.
- Masks are still required in schools, child care centers and some other facilities.
The Benton-Franklin Health District is offering no-appointment pop-up clinics at several locations in the coming days. All three vaccinations are available at each location, and vaccinations are available for everyone age 12 and over.
On Thursday, July 1, clinics will operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Columbia Center mall (near the food court) and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at Ben Franklin Transit, 7109 W. Okanogan Place, Kennewick.
On Friday, July 2, clinics are offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Richland Farmers Market at The Parkway.
On Saturday, July 3, a clinic is offered from 8 a.m. to noon at the Islamic Center, 2900 Bombing Range Road, West Richland.
Free Covid-19 testing is offered from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fridays to Sundays at the CBC-West site, 3110 W. Argent Road, Pasco.