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'It's disheartening:' Local businesses, restaurants react to Inslee's new COVID-19 plan

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

SEATTLE -- Some struggling business owners say Gov. Inslee's new COVID-19 recovery plan announced Tuesday is not helping them recover at all.

The new plan splits the state into eight regions based on health care resources and there are two reopening phases. Every region is starting in phase one.

Theo Martin, the owner of Island Soul in South Seattle, was anxiously hoping indoor dining would be allowed immediately -- even in a limited capacity.

But not yet. While a few restrictions will be relaxed for indoor gyms and entertainment in Phase 1, indoor dining remains prohibited until a region advances to the second phase, when it would be allowed at 25% capacity.

“It’s been a challenge, and to hear that announced today was disheartening,” said Martin. “It just doesn’t seem right why restaurants are being punished or closed when we’re doing everything possible to re-open up.”

His outdoor dining tent has no customers on a rainy Tuesday night. He even remodeled inside the restaurant, fitting with social distancing standards.

“What’s next?" Martin said. " 'Till the sun comes back out, till it snows? It feels like there isn’t really a solid reason this is why we did it. It’s repeating the same answer.”

Gyms can take hold indoor sessions with very strict limits – only one customer per 500 square feet. Regions that advance to Phase 2 would also be allowed 25% capacity.

To get to Phase 2, a region has to meet four metrics and maintain three of the four to remain there:

* A 10% decrease in case rates and COVID-19 hospital admission rates. * An ICU occupancy rate less than 90%. * And test positivity rates of less than 10%.

At Fit4Mom South Seattle, Rachel Garcia put that in perspective for the small studio.

“For now, we’re keep putting one foot in front of another,” said Garcia. “Even 25 percent is tough for us. That leaves us with a class of 4 or 5. It doesn’t even really cover the cost for an instructor for us.”

Since all classes have been virtual since March, and with a cautious clientele, anything helps -- even crumbs.

“We’ll just keep meeting people where they are and keep offering them what they can in the way that we can, and keep people safe,” said Garcia.

Health officials said they’ll take a look at each region Friday to see where they stand, then there's the possibility that some regions will move to phase two Monday.

“We feel like we’ve been respecting it,” said Martin. “We just want to open up. To have that opportunity to go back to work.”

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