Construction industry officials in Washington state are working with Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to allow projects to resume under his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order that now has been extended until at least May 31.
At a May 1 press conference, Inslee said the state will allow new projects to begin construction in phase two of a four-phased approach to ease the March 23 lockdown, but that phase won’t come until early June at the earliest.
On April 24, Inslee allowed low-risk existing construction to resume before the end of the state’s stay-at-home order under a 31-point COVID-19 prevention plan.
This was the first major easing of restrictions for any industry in Washington, with construction officials working early with Inslee on a specific COVID-19 reopening plan.
The phase-two plan allows new construction with “all the appropriate health restrictions,” along with other business resumption, such as restaurants in half-capacity, car dealerships, and barbershops and salons.
Inslee’s second phase also allows small group gatherings of five or less, expected to rise to 50 in the third phase.
The governor gave 10 Washington counties more autonomy to determine if they could move to phase two sooner. “Some counties with lower numbers of cases and deaths, if they have enough PPE and hospital capacity, we can allow them to move sooner to phase two,” he says. Those 10 counties combined represent less than 3% of the state population.
Inslee pointed to construction's reopening as a model for how industries across the state could reopen.
“We worked very successfully" with business leaders, builders and unions, he said about the April construction plan.